Posts Tagged ‘florence-darlington’

ATETV Episode 48: Working Hand in Hand with Industry

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

This week, we learn how internship programs can help pave the way to future careers, and explore an Energy Education program that is paving the way to a cleaner, more efficient environment.

In our first segment, we visit Florence-Darlington Technical College, where students are offered the opportunity to pursue internships with companies in their chosen technology fields. The end result: Students have an added advantage once they graduate, and in many cases, may even be offered full-time employment with the companies for which they interned!

“We give [Florence-Darlington students] an opportunity to come here and work hand in hand with our technicians in our process area to actually put in projects,” explains employer John Kimbrough of Wellman, Inc. “Then, if they actually perform well, if they have the skills and if they’re team players, we consider them for job openings [once they graduate.]”

It’s a similar story at ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, where Jill Heiden relies on interns from Florence-Darlington to fulfill numerous key job responsibilities. “The interns have their own jobs, they are hands-on,” she notes. “They have a mentor that they can shadow, but they are actually working in technical jobs on the floor with the already employed technicians.” The benefit of this arrangement, she adds, is that students get to learn what real life is about.

It’s what Elaine Craft of the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SC ATE)Center of Excellence calls a “grow your own” approach. “Industries actually get these students [as employees] early on in the program, and the students can grow up with the industry as they complete their two-year associate degrees.” As a result, she adds, students develop skills that can be put to immediate use once they enter the workplace.

Notes Wellman’s John Kimbrough, “Hopefully, [our student interns] will take a job with us [when they graduate] but even if they don’t, when they go on to the real world, they will have these hands-on skills in which they’ve actually worked in a manufacturing environment, and that looks good on somebody’s resume.”

And, no matter what workplace that may be, there will likely be an emphasis on energy efficiency. In this week’s second segment, we visit with students and educators at Sinclair Community College’s Center for Energy Education.

Before students pursue a career in any type of alternative or renewable energy field, they need to understand the basics of energy efficiency, according to Sinclair’s Bob Gilbert.

“Students learn how to analyze utility data, learn what portion of their natural gas is for hot water, what is for heating purposes, and then apply the same principles to electricity,” Bob explains. “We [have students] look at the envelope, look at the mechanical systems, and look at the operational procedures. Then they come up with an energy management plan.” Through this plan, students are actually able to quantify savings in dollars and cents, and from there, translate savings into CO2 emissions.

By studying energy codes, simulation software, code compliance software — coupled with hands-on experience in the field — Sinclair students become fully prepared to conduct energy audits and implement their broad-based energy efficiency education in the real world, particularly in industry, which adds up to a more sustainable future for our country.

Or as student Howard Ducker puts it, “Now when I leave a room, I turn off the lights.”

Teamwork Pays Off

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Teamwork is integral to any successful career, and ATE programs help students develop important team-building skills. This week’s blog is from Laura Floyd of Florence-Darlington Technical College and her ATE English 260 students who shared their insights on the importance of teamwork.

The class submits:

More and more often the workplace looks for workers who have been trained in teamwork or who have had experience working in teams. Students in the ATE program at Florence-Darlington Technical College work in teams to complete group assignments. In their first semester, students learn ways to make a team function most efficiently.

Florence Darlington 1 Specific lessons focus on making rules and procedures for the team, having assigned roles and responsibilities, developing good interpersonal skills, and making checklists and timelines. Because faculty members “team-teach” the ATE curriculum, we often model the same basic teaming procedures that we’re teaching.

The college’s second-semester students recently completed their first group project, and as part of their assignment, they posted their comments about teamwork to the college’s discussion board. As many of the students commented, there is a need to feel a sense of unity within the team.

Corey S. : The purpose of a team is to pull together to get the job done and if any team can do that then that team is successful.

Thomas: I completely agree with what Corey said. The purpose of a team is to come together to solve a problem, allowing each others’ strengths to compensate for weaknesses. The only way a team can work is by removing the mindset of “how will this affect me?” and start thinking in a way that says, “How will this affect the team?” Teams are made and destroyed by this ability to remove oneself from the equation and think about the good of the team.

Research has shown that students who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to Florence Darlington 2succeed and less likely to drop out. Here’s what one student noted:

Caleb: The concept of teamwork is extremely important to the success of any team. All coaches talk about working as one unit, as a unified team. Teamwork and unselfishness create the backbone of a great team; without them, a team cannot realistically compete. You can have a group of superstars, but if they do not work well as one unit, chances are they are not going to be as successful as you would think. The working as one cohesive unit is going to be the key in their success.

Another key component of working in teams is developing good interspersonal skills:

Greg: [Teamwork] not only prepares you for the workplace, but helps your people skills. I also agree with Corey and Thomas on the fact that the groups help maximize your better strengths and improve your weaknesses. Last semester was the first time I ever worked in groups, and I enjoyed the experiences overall. People skills are required to work well in groups and I think I work really well with others no matterFlorence Darlington 3 their background.

Most of the students emphasized the “two heads are better than one” value of teamwork:

James: Last semester we had to build an assembly line to prcess different styles of radios. These radios were placed on a chute and then conveyed to a point in the system where they wer processed onto one of five lines to be loaded onto trucks and shipped to the customer. Our team of three, with different backgrounds and experiences, proved to be beneficial because we were able to divide the problems into sections that each person was familiar with. One member figured the velocity of the radios moving down the chute while a second member designed a box to transport the radio, and I designed a turntable to position the radio from the conveyor onto the correct processing line.

Although the comments on working in teams were mostly favorable, students also noted the hard parts of teamwork — being dependent on other students, having teammates who don’t do their part.

Reade: Good teamwork skills are something that everyone should have. Working in teams is a good way to complete large-scale projects. Sometimes your teammates may fall short on completing their work and it puts a heavier load on everyone else.

Brent: I completely agree with Reade on teamwork. All members of a team must perform together and work with each other to get the job done. I believe that every member needs to get an equal amount of the project so one member can’t complain to another; also teamwork calls forFlorence Darlington 4 a lot of communications among team members.

Scott: Like anything else, teamwork has its ups and downs. Some of the good things about teamwork are less work for the individual person, better ideas since there are more people, and skills that the people in your team have. Some downfalls of teamwork are stress [resulting] from team members not doing their parts, people not showing up for meetings, and not agreeing on ideas.

Usually, the “A” students are the most reluctant to rely on others.

Steven: Teamwork is a big part of the ATE program here at Florence-Darlington Tech. In real-world engineering situations, we are going to be a part of a team working together. Team projects prepare us for our future careers. At first I was concerned that a bad teammate could possibly affect my grade, but everyone here is serious about achieving his or her goals and is really dependable when it comes to work required for projects.

Brian: I am sometimes an individual when it comes to certain things, wanting to accept my total reward for my work without sharing the lime light. I have also been in groups where everyone didn’t carry their weight as a team player, making it harder for others in the group, and affecting the team’s grade, or accepting recognition for work they did not do. Florence Darlington 5

Even the students who dislike working in teams, recognize its value. They know that the skills that come from being a part of a team will be useful to them in their next big venture — the workplace.

India: Teamwork is an essential asset in today’s workforce. It allows individuals to obtain better communication skills, complete the job faster and meet new people.

Thanks to Laura Floyd and all of the Florence-Darlington students in her ATE English 260 class for their comments and insights — great teamwork!

ATETV Episode 26: Growing a Competitive Workforce

Monday, March 15th, 2010

This week, we learn about an agriculture curriculum and an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Center of Excellence that are helping to promote growth — literally and figuratively!

In our first segment, we meet Dan Miller, a student in the GPS and GIS program at Kirkwood Community College who is studying to be a “cutting-edge” farmer.

“I grew up on a farm with my father, and that’s what started my interest in the field of agriculture,” says Dan. And, through Kirkwood’s GPS/GIS program, Dan is preparing to work in in the emerging geospatial technology industry. As one of only a handful of precision agriculture programs in the nation, Kirkwood’s curriculum provides students with courses in computers, GPS (Global Positioning Systems), ArcView and data collection, in addition to agronomy and agriculture economics.

GPS technology has complemented Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for a number of years. “GPS is used in a lot of tractors, but also has a lot of other applications,” notes Dan. “There’s an infinite amount of options to use in the field of agriculture right now. This program has opened my eyes to all of the programs that are available to use in our family farm operation or to help me create my own business.”

Even if Dan decides not to pursue a career in farming, the skills he’s gaining through this program can translate into numerous other careers, including construction, natural resources or other agricultural careers. But for now, Dan says, “Once I graduate my passion is to go back home and farm with my Dad. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed and that’s what I really want to do.”

In our second segment, we visit the South Carolina ATE Center of Excellence at Florence-Darlington Technical College, which has developed proven models and successful practices to improve education — and ensure a competitive, technologically savvy workforce for the future.

“We have worked one-on-one with a number of educators and other organizations around the country to develop practices and strategies that we know will increase the quantity, quality and diversity of engineering technicians and support economic development,” explains Elaine Craft. And she adds, all of today’s education research is pointing to the value of hands-on, inquiry-based learning.

“Without a hands-on experience that puts things in context and forces students to grapple a bit, the information doesn’t stick and students don’t know how to use the information the next time they encounter it,” she notes. At Florence-Darlington, a series of changes that were initially implemented to meet the learning styles of a particular group of students,are now being used to make learning more meaningful for all students.

“We entirely changed the way we approach the first year of study, integrating mathematics, physics, technology and communications,” adds Elaine. “We also have an internship program, so we can now provide students with opportunities to work while they’re enrolled in school.” Known as a “Grow-Your-Own” approach, the internship enables students to “grow up” with an industry during their two years of school, ultimately producing a good match between the graduate and the job.

The South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center (SC ATE) is now working with community colleges and industry partners on improving Engineering Technology programs at two-year colleges not only in South Carolina, but across the country. As this week’s episode demonstrates, today’s technology students can grow and thrive in many different ways!

ATETV Episode 14: Biotech in High School; Drafting and Graphic Engineering

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009



Only two stories in this holiday week episode, but they’re good ones. First, we visit Southwestern College near San Diego to learn about an innovative program that is bringing biotechnology into high school science classrooms. Biotech is a booming field, so much so that Southwestern heard from companies in the industry that the supply of technicians wasn’t keeping up with demand. That’s why the college started reaching out to students at local high schools. We were so impressed with the results that we did a separate post about the program; you can read it here.

Ashley, the subject of this week’s second segment, also got an early start on her career plans. “When I was in high school, we took a drafting program and that started my ambition for architecture,” she tells us. “Then my father, he noticed that I was really good at it, so he kind of steered me in the right direction.” That direction led to the engineering technology program at Florence-Darlington Technical College, where Ashley will earn in two years a degree that will let her work for an architect. “I am so happy that I made this choice,” she says.

On behalf of everyone here at ATETV, we wish you and your family a very happy holidays!

ATETV Episode 11: Learning at Any Age

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

This week we meet students with three different circumstances: a recent community college grad out in the workforce, a returning professional changing careers, and current students who got a jump start on their ATE classes during high school.

First we meet Travis Blackwell, who’s putting his ATE degree to use as a field service engineer for ESAB, an international Swedish industrial company with welding and cutting equipment manufacturing facilities located throughout the world. Travis earned a 2-year degree in electromechanical engineering technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College.

As part of his studies, Travis completed an internship, where he worked with the same equipment that he now maintains in the field. “College essentially taught me how to think for a higher level, problem solving and to do any sort of analysis whatsoever,” he says. “The hands-on training did help a lot with establishing good fundamentals for the lectures.”

Next we meet Susan Clark, who has gone back to school to pursue a certificate in biotechnology. After the job that had kept her busy for 12 years ended, Susan decided to act on her love of science and study for a new career, and she says she’s not alone in doing so. “There were several people in my class who were just about my age. One was retired looking for something else to do. Another one, he was switching jobs, due to layoffs.” Susan’s biotech studies will prepare her for a new high-tech career, possibly in environmental quality monitoring.

Finally we return to Florence-Darlington Technical College, where several of the current students actually started earning college credits while still in high school. “We need to begin to develop the technical expertise and the technical skills in a much younger child, so that they have the chance to help us create a global competitive environment,” says Jill Heiden of ESAB — the same company that now employs Travis Blackwell. By starting early, students are setting themselves up for successful careers like Travis’.

ATETV Episode 9: Women in Science

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

This week we have two stories about bringing more women into science and engineering — and one of them involves some pretty cool lasers!

First, we visit with female students and educators at Florence-Darlington Technical College in South Carolina. Many of the ATE students here are male, but administrators are making progress attracting more women. “If you can present education in a way that taps into those natural abilities of females, then they can excel in ways they never thought they could excel,” says Elaine Craft, Director of South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (SC ATE) and an ATETV advisor.

In neighboring North Carolina, Central Carolina Community College is attracting female students by offering them a free education. “All females can go to school for free: free tuition, free books,” explains CCCC’s Gary Beasley. “You can’t beat that.” We profile Katie Renshaw, a student in CCCC’s lasers and photonics program where she gets to work with some amazing equipment, including a laser powerful enough to burn a block of wood!

This week, we also meet Kevin Ross, who is studying HVAC at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston. Kevin had been out of school for 20 years before he was laid off. Now he’s studying to become a licensed HVAC technician. His story highlights the crucial role that technician education programs play in helping workers update their skills to adapt to the demands of a changing economy.

Never Too Late To Learn

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Last week on ATETV, we saw the value of Advanced Technological Education for high school and college-age students. This week we meet a student who proves it’s never too late to learn new skills or switch careers.

Najee’ Person is studying electronics engineering technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, S.C. Najee’ had studied business at a community college before entering the workforce. Now he’s looking to make a change.

Najee’s story is a reminder that ATE programs aren’t just for the next generation of workers. As American industry shifts to new green technology, ATE programs can help technical workers update their skills and help workers from other fields, like Najee’, take advantage of new opportunities.    

And this week’s other two segments show that, when these older workers come to an ATE program, they get to work with cutting-edge technology. At Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, agriculture technology students are using the GPS and GIS gadgets found in many passenger cars to make farming more efficient. Meanwhile, design students at Saddleback College in California are learning to “print” 3-D models of their work straight from their computers. 

These two programs are training students on the latest equipment, often donated by the very companies looking to hire the graduates of these programs. Courses like these are a common-sense way for both new and older workers to keep their technical skills fresh.