Posts Tagged ‘National Science Foundation’

Energy Technician Education Summit

Friday, December 17th, 2010
Photo Courtesy of the AACC

Photo Courtesy of the AACC

This week’s Episode of ATETV features the Segment “Gearing Up for the Energy Workforce.” So, it seems particularly timely that the broadcast coincides with the recent National Energy Technician Education Summit, which was held in Washington December 8-10.

Hosted by the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) and the American Association of Community Colleges, the summit brought together representatives from the worlds of education, industry, and government to focus on the ways that community colleges can meet the current and future needs for technicians in the energy sector, an industry propelled by growing demands for alternative energies and a growing need to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

According to a story appearing on the website of the Community College Times, summit participants agreed that a combination of technical skills and “soft skills” are required for the job of energy technician. On the technical side, aptitudes in math, science, data analysis and mechanical and information technology were cited as necessary for the field. And employers at the summit agreed that they also seek employees who possess “soft” skills such as the ability to speak and write clearly, to solve problems, to work on a team, and to think critically.

As Daniel Lance, global training leader for GE Energy Renewables told the Community College Times, “Give me a technician that’s got a good, solid fundamental understanding of electrical theory, power generation, safety and some work experience [and] I can take that resource and teach [him] the specifics of the GE technology that they need.”

Another area of focus at the three-day long event was energy efficiency. As we heard from students and teachers at Sinclair Community College in this week’s Episode, energy efficiency measures begin one building at a time. But, with nearly 5 million commercial buildings in North America, these measures wind up having widespread environmental and economic impact — and create a significant demand for energy technicians who know how to efficiently operate building systems. As New York State Energy Research and Development Authority project manager Kimberlie Lenihan told the Community College Times, “We need whole-building thinkers.”

A summit summary will be posted at the ATEEC web site and the ATEEC will publish a full report on the National Energy Technician Summit next spring. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about alternative energy, energy efficiency and workforce trends for energy technicians, check out additional resources at the Community College Times.

Jane Ostrander: Scenario-based Learning and Social Media

Monday, November 30th, 2009

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First off, we hope you and your family had a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

A couple weeks back, we talked to Gordon Snyder about using social media in the classroom. This week we’re hearing another perspective from Jane Ostrander, Director of the Experimental Learning Center at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif.

Jane is writing her dissertation about the reasons why people choose to participate in online knowledge sharing. It boils down to a cost/benefit analysis: “The potential participant must see some value in participating that outweighs whatever costs s/he anticipates will occur as a result of that participation.”

Once an online community is established, it’s vital to make sure participants have a stake in the conversation. Jane cites research showing that “a sense of either personal ownership or stewardship of the information enhanced sharing.”

Jane and her team are putting these insights to work in an online community on the educational site Tapped In. They’re using the site to explore new ways to disseminate instructional materials and lesson plans, and to develop online “wizards” to provide advice to community college instructors. Jane has also used YouTube as a way to get materials out to a wide audience without spending a lot of money – “always a concern with budget-impaired community college faculty,” she notes.

As for other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, Ostrander thinks it’s important not to confuse tools with learning. She hopes that her fellow teachers remember the lesson from the advent of the personal computer. “Buying and networking a bunch of computers and parking them in the back of the classroom did not automatically enhance teaching and learning in that classroom,” she notes.

“Social network tools provide educators with a means to connect with and inform students, but that’s not the same thing as facilitating learning,” she says. “The interaction between teacher, student, content and environment – including the available tools – is what makes learning happen in the classroom.”

In other words, it’s not the technology but what teachers are able to do with it that makes a difference for students. That’s why she’s staying actively involved in her Tapped In community. “Essentially, our project team is driving the bus at this point, though hopefully not forever, whereas social media tools just deliver the bus and a set of keys and say, ‘Go for it; make of it what you will.’”

ATETV Episode 6: Three More Success Stories

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

ATETV Episode 6 went live yesterday with three more ATE success stories from across the country.

Our first segment, on preparing students for careers in renewable energy, couldn’t be more timely, what with President Obama’s speech on the topic at MIT this past Friday.  As we did in our story about process technology last week, we focus on a single mom who is enrolled in an ATE program — in this case, studying wind energy technology — to make a better life for her and her family.

For our second segment, we get a bit of a history lesson. Benjamin Franklin, who got his start as a printer’s apprentice, believed that apprentices made good citizens. We pay a visit to his namesake school in his hometown of Boston, which is bringing his philosophy into the 21st century through its wide variety of ATE programs.

Finally, we take a look at rapid prototype modeling, the wave of the future in design and manufacturing. Rapid prototyping allows students to “print” 3D copies of their designs; in some applications, they can even use it to produce final products. It sounds like something out of science fiction, but it’s not, and it’s being taught in ATE programs right now.

ATE Conference Wrap-up

Monday, October 26th, 2009

What a week! Our ATETV team is back from the ATE Conference in Washington, D.C., and we’re energized by the great feedback we got from attendees. Many ATE professionals came up to us at our booth at the conference to tell us how our videos have helped them communicate their work to a wider audience.

We also got to show our videos on the big screen right before every key note speaker; the last one, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter even gave us a special mention in her speech.  She talked about how our efforts to connect students with many options for their future dovetails with the administration’s American Graduation Initiative to increase graduation rates and get students not only “in the door but through the door.”

You can check out some photos from the conference on our our Facebook page.  Thanks to the National Science Foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges for organizing such a great event, and to all the attendees for coming and sharing their work.  Seeing all of the amazing ATE projects on display made us that much more excited to continue to document the great work being done at community colleges and ATE centers across the country.

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ATETV on the big screen!

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Student Correspondent Cristina Curatolo

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Student correspondent Josh Cleburn