Archive for November, 2010

Marine Science Programs – from North to South and East to West

Friday, November 19th, 2010


MATE – the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center – is headquartered at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California. With the mission of increasing the size of the country’s marine technical workforce, MATE sponsors the annual ROV competition, which brings together students from around the country in a competition to construct remotely operated vehicles – underwater robots – an event that helps participants hone their technical skills and introduces them to the field of marine technology, as we learned in this week’s Episode.

In this week’s Episode, MATE Coordinator Jill Zande told ATETV, “The skills that students learn [as part of the ROV competition] can be applied in many different fields. They can become ROV engineers and pilots or they can choose to use their engineering and their technical skills to support other underwater technology platforms.”

Monterey Peninsula College is an obvious choice for an education in marine technology – students at the Northern California seaside campus can take a variety of classes – everything from Environmental Regulations to Research Diving and Safety – in their pursuit of either an A.S. degree or Certificate Program study in Marine Science and Technology.

But MATE’S Marine Science programs aren’t confined to California; colleges throughout the U.S. – North, South, East and West – provide a wide variety of aquatic programs for ocean-minded students. For example:

In the Northeast, Southern Maine Community College offers students an A.S. degree in Applied Marine Biology & Oceanography. Skills that can be learned through the curriculum – which emphasizes hands-on laboratory and field procedures – can be applied to careers in aquatic research and ecosystem management, with special attention given to collecting and identifying a diversity of marine organisms, conducting oceanographic sampling procedures aboard the school’s own research vessel, and microbiology and chemistry laboratory techniques.

Heading further down the East Coast, New York’s Kingsborough Community College is located on a 72-acre waterfront campus in Brooklyn, and offers a two year Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Marine Technology with a focus on vessel operations. Sample courses include Vessel Technology I and II, in which students are introduced to seamanship theory and the fundamentals of vessel handling through extensive on-board training, including piloting, operating rigging and deck machinery, as well as classes in Marine Electronics and Navigation. Students who have completed this program work in positions such as chief mate, captain, small engine mechanic, assistant manager of a marina, tug crew and mate on a private yacht.

Continuing the voyage south, the Marine Technology curriculum at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina provides students with extensive shipboard experience and a hands-on approach to skills training from its location on the banks of the Cape Fear River. The curriculum prepares students to use and maintain electronic navigation devices, physical and chemical measuring instruments and sampling devices and Cape Fear graduates have gone on to positions in the U.S. Navy, the National Marine Fisheries Service and Lucent Technologies, among others.

Not surprisingly, a number of marine technology programs are based at Florida schools, including Florida Keys Community College where A.S. degrees are offered in Diving, Marine Environmental Technology and Marine Engineering. Located in Key West, FKCC’s program in Diving Business and Technology is especially popular, providing the education and diving core requirements needed for a career as a SCUBA instructor, a dive boat captain, a commercial diver, police diver or scientific research diver, as well as careers in dive medicine.

But, you don’t have to be on one of the coasts to take advantage of marine studies — there are numerous technical programs available in the center of the country for students who are interested in working in and around recreational boats. For example, at Tennessee’s Chattanooga State Technical Community College, a program in Motorcycle and Marine Service Technology provides students with academics in diagnostics and troubleshooting and maintenance of internal combustion engines and the other electrical and mechanical components necessary to the marine services industry. Similarly, at Iowa Lakes Community College, a curriculum in Marine Service Technology prepares students for careers at marinas, national marine corporations, marine manufacturers and personal watercraft dealerships.

Back on the West Coast, Northern Oregon’s Clatsop Community College maintains an active rapport with the U.S. Coast Guard and offers classes in its Maritime Science Department that include Marine Safety, Marine Licensing Programs, Navigation, Charts, Tides and Currents and Boat Handling as well as Marine Licensing Programs and Marine Electronics.

And finally, Saddleback College, located in Southern California’s Orange County offers students a certificate program in Aquarium and Aquaculture Science. Courses focus on the science of rearing and caring for marine and freshwater animals and the chemical, physical and biological environment of the aquarium ecosystems, and at the college’s 4,500-square-foot aquarium facility, students care for species such as corals, jellyfish, urchins, stars, perch and even sharks.

For more examples of Marine programs at colleges around the country, as well as career options available in the Marine industry, click here or check out BoatUS magazine’s comprehensive career guide, “2010-2011 Boat Lovers’ Guide to Marine Trade Schools.”

Ships ahoy!

Strong Job Market for Biomedical Equipment Technicians

Thursday, November 11th, 2010


If you’ve ever had an x-ray or an MRI scan, or visited a hospital patient who was on a ventilator or hooked to a heart monitor, then you’ve witnessed just a few of the many medical devices that are routinely used today. That’s no surprise. But did you ever consider that all of that medical equipment — the machines, the monitors, the multitude of diagnostic devices — is maintained by skilled technicians whose role is essential to the smooth running of our health care system — and to patients’ health?

In this week’s Episode, ATETV visits Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, which offers a major in Medical Electronics, a course that can set the stage for a career as a Biomedical Equipment Technician or BMET. Biomedical Engineers are named by U.S. News and World Report as one of the Best Careers of 2010, the career outlook in this field remains strong today — BMETs can anticipate a fast-paced, rapidly changing work environment, as well as the reward of knowing that your work is literally helping to save people’s lives.

And, with new medical technologies constantly being developed, the job market is growing. The latest figures from the 2010-2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics report that employment in this field is projected to increase 27 percent by 2018 — much faster than the average for all occupations — and that excellent job opportunities are expected. One reason: As the population ages, the demand for overall healthcare will increase. As healthcare demand increases, so too will the need for highly skilled technicians to maintain the intricate medical devices used to run tests, perform diagnoses, and administer therapies.

Here are some more facts about the career, from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).

Job responsibilities: BMETs are responsible for servicing and maintaining medical equipment and other technologies for hospitals, healthcare facilities, manufacturers and third-party service organizations around the world. BMETs also install the equipment and train doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical personnel to use the cutting-edge equipment.

Skills needed: A strong interest in science, mechanics and new technologies, as well as a desire to help improve healthcare delivery are all desirable qualifications in a BMET, as are good technical and problem-solving abilities, strong aptitude in mechanics and good hand-eye coordination. Successful BMETs are also detail-oriented, work well as part of a team, and have good communication skills.

Examples of medical equipment that are maintained: Consider that a large hospital might have as many as 10,000 medical devices in operation at any given time, according to the AAMI. These could include EKG machines (electrocardiographs), EEG (electroencephalograph) machines, X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanners, blood warmers, infusion pumps, humidifiers, dialysis machines, blood gas analyzers….and the list goes on and on.

Educational requirements: A course of study in medical electronics generally includes classes in math, physics and electronics, as well as courses in basic health science physiology and anatomy. At Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, students in the Medical Electronics Engineering program develop troubleshooting skills in analog circuits, digital circuits and processers. They also learn medical terminology and the operation of medical instruments, including EKG instruments, defibrillators and incubators.

To learn more about the educational requirements needed for a career in the medical electronics field, visit the AAMI website where you can also find videos and descriptions of the day-to-day life of a biomedical equipment technician.

And, the next time you’re in a hospital setting, take a minute to pause and listen — the beeps and alarms you hear are the result of the work of a BMET — and they may very well be saving someone’s life.

Game On!

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Video Games

When ATETV launched its web program last year, our first Episode included a segment on the Simulation and Game Development Program at Wake Technical Community College, where we heard from a student who was coupling her love of video games with her scientific and medical interests to develop a simulation program to help people learn how to perform CPR.

Video simulation programs are widely used in the field of medicine, helping to train nurses, technicians and doctors. But as we’ve discovered, today’s video simulations are rapidly evolving to help users better understand a wide variety of the scientific and medical issues and challenges that we face today.

At the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, for example, the LA Times reports that computer-simulated “humans” are being created by groups of psychologists, engineers and scientists to help train military troops about post-traumatic stress disorder. These virtual soldiers are also helping real-life soldiers to transition back into civilian life.

Another example of a program looking at the issues of the day is “Inside the Haiti Earthquake,” a first-person simulation based on documentary footage from Haiti. The program is designed to help users to understand the perspective of three individuals – an earthquake survivor, aid worker, and journalist – and to deepen their understanding of the challenges and conflicts involved in each of the roles, and the complexity and difficulties of relief work in disaster situations. You can read more about this unique project in this interview with the Huffington Post.

Still another new video game helps players better understand global climate change. Called “Fate of the World,” this “global strategy game” enables players to decide how the world will “respond to rising temperatures, heaving populations, dwindling resources, and crumbling ecosystems….” As adviser Diana Liverman of the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment noted in an interview, “This [game] is another way to improve climate literacy….in order to destroy the world you would have to know a lot about climate change, emissions, world geography and politics and how they combine with other factors to create a catastrophe.”

If these examples have left you curious about a career in Simulation and Game Development, check out this special issue of Community College Week published last spring. There you can learn more about the industry, the job opportunities, and some of the community colleges where programs in Simulation and Game development are offered.

Game On!