Archive for April, 2011

Community Colleges: A Look Back and A Look Ahead

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Community colleges have gotten a lot of attention over the past year, generating widespread discussion in the business community, the academic community and especially in the White House. Early this month, the 91st annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) held in New Orleans, took a look back at how community colleges first came into existence — and a glimpse forward at what lies ahead. You might be surprised at the similarities.

The community college program is 110 years old. According to the AACC, most historians point to the founding of Joliet Junior College, near Chicago, in 1901, as the beginning of this popular program. As the AACC notes, “…the roots of this uniquely American contribution to higher education [lie] in a social movement that widely broadened access to higher education and training opportunities to students who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend college due to economic, mobility and social barriers.” Today, Joliet Junior College is the oldest community college still in operation.

The term “community college” was first used in 1947. Harry Truman was president and World War II was over. The Truman Commission report was the first time the term “community colleges” was used. It recommended that the community college program be expanded to every state to meet the educational and training needs of returning veterans as well as the country’s growing need for skilled workers in a rapidly shifting economy.

Today, there are close to 1,200 accredited community college programs throughout the country and there is a community college within a short commute of 90 percent of the U.S. population. And now, as then, community colleges are providing training for returning veterans, and continue to playing an essential role in preparing the nation’s workforce to meet the needs of changing local economies.

The community college has even gone global. Our “uniquely American” education model can now be found around the world. According to the AACC, community colleges can now be found in Saudia Arabia, Qatar, Vietanam, Thailand and the Republic of Georgia. In addition, the AACC has signed cooperative agreements with postsecondary education systems in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

What lies ahead for community colleges? Plenty. Check out the keynote address
delivered by AACC President Dr. Walter Bumphus at this month’s annual meeting. Dr. Bumphus said it best: “Never in more than 100 years of service have [community colleges] been more visible or valued.”

What Are Advanced Automotive Technologies?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011


This week, ATETV visited Stark State College where instructors in the Fuel Cell Technology program are working hand-in-hand with local industry to train technicians in this rapidly growing field within the changing automotive industry.

Fuel cell vehicles are powered by hydrogen gas rather than gasoline, which makes for an important advantage in terms of reducing harmful tailpipe emissions as well as reducing the nation’s dependence on oil.

And this is just one new alternative avenue that the automotive industry is taking, according to the ATE Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT). The CAAT is headquartered at Macomb Community College in southeast Michigan, home to some of the largest American automakers, numerous foreign automakers and more than 270 automotive research and development centers.

What, exactly, are Advanced Automotive Technologies?

According to the CAAT, these are the technologies that are helping to shift the transportation economy from petroleum-powered engines to new vehicle propulsion systems. In addition to fuel cell vehicles, these include electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles, which operate on ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas and liquefield propane gas.

As the ATE notes, with stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards now imposed on new autos (to reduce dependence on oil and improve the nation’s trade balance), the need for alternative technologies will only grow, and as this demand grows, so too will the demand for highly trained technical workers – who are already in short supply.

For an up-close look at how a hybrid electric vehicle gets its power, check out the Virtual HEV Simulator or to learn more about the future of clean energy technologies, take a look at web site of the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation.

There’s no question – it’s a fast-moving industry!

The Definition of a Catalyst

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

ATE: A Catalyst for Success

In the field of chemistry, a “catalyst” is a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction. Taking that definition out of the laboratory, a “catalyst” is defined as “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change.”

The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program fits the description.

ATE was developed in 1994 to help prepare technicians for employment in the numerous high technology workplaces that are vital to our nation’s economy. There are now more than 39 ATE centers around the country focused on several broad technological areas including Advanced Manufacturing, Agricultural, Energy & Environmental Technologies, Biotechnology & Chemical Processes, Electronics, Micro- & Nanotechnologies, Engineering Technologies, and Information, Geospatial, & Security Technologies.


*During 2009, ATE centers and projects had 6,900 collaborations with industry, business, public agencies, and educational enterprises.

*In that same time period, 85,300 students took at least one ATE-supported course, while another 58,100 participated in an ATE professional development program.

As Dan Welch, Vice President and General Manager of BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards notes of ATE’s catalytic role, “Our training partnership with the [ATE] program is on target to grow by 30% each year over the next 3 years, yet we anticipate a need for a 40% increase in our workforce. The SMART [Southeast Maritime and Transportation Center] is poised to do just that – help us grow our maritime workforce.”

And, Brandon Dixon, who graduated from information assurance programs at 2 CyberWatch member institutions, earning an associate degree from the Community College of Baltimore County and a bachelor’s degree from Capitol College is a great example of how ATE can lead to change: Brandon is now employed as an information systems security engineer at G2, Inc., in Columbia, MD, where he works on virtualization, vulnerability, and exploits.

Check out the new ATE publication, “Partners with Industry for a New American Workforce,” to learn more –you’ll soon find out why ATE has been called a “catalyst for student success and economic development.”

Coming up SOON on ATETV!

Friday, April 1st, 2011

film strip

A Sneak Preview

Last year’s White House Summit launched an important discussion of the many key roles that community colleges play in workforce development and in student success, particularly in the technology fields.

Now, this year, the conversation continues, with the U.S. Department of Education holding a series of four regional community college summits at cities around the country, which will culminate in a Community College Virtual Symposium the week of April 25th.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take this opportunity to join in on the conversation with a “sneak preview” of some of the subjects that ATETV will be covering in upcoming episodes later this spring. The 40 new programs will blend solid “how-to” information and classroom profiles with visits to some of the nation’s most prominent technology companies to help students get the most out of the community-college experience and provide employers and educators with important resources.

For example, the “101 Series” will provide viewers with a crash-course in the community college experience. Beginning with in-depth examinations of course curriculum and academic requirements in a variety of community college programs, and ending with up-close examinations of the career paths that these programs can lead to, these ATETV segments will include first-person interviews with employed technicians to learn how they landed their positions.

A second focus of upcoming ATETV programs will be the four-part “From High School to College” series created to help students explore higher-education opportunities while they are still in high school, and provide them with an important head-start to their future career paths. Specific subjects will focus on dual-enrollment programs, and the value of informational interviews.

Other segments will take viewers behind-the-scenes of leading technology employers, offer students career-building “tech tips,” and visit community-college classrooms around the country, providing students with “previews” of course content – before they enroll.

Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to talk about!