Posts Tagged ‘southwestern college’

ATE Central – A Wealth of Information

Friday, October 1st, 2010

This week, ATETV adviser Nouna Bakhiet from Southwestern College in San Diego, described an ATE Program that’s helping to launch students into the Biotechnology field — which is booming in Southern California as well as many other areas of the country. Here’s what she says:

San Diego is a national hub for Biotechnology. Southwestern College started a Biotechnology technician training program in 1999 to serve the minority population of the San Diego South Bay. The program attracted participants seeking jobs as well as transfer students. The students complete a set of rigorous lecture and lab courses to prepare for real-life research internships.

In 2004, the ATE-sponsored BETSI (Biotechnology Education and Training Sequence Investment Project) was launched to bring cutting-edge Biotechnology practices to Sweetwater Union High School District and to train Southwestern College student in the fundamentals of Biotechnology. The BETSI model helps get pre-college students excited about the field and helps position community college students for successful careers as Biotechnology technicians and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors. From high school to community college to the workplace, BETSI is an education and training cascade bringing students from books to the benches of research.

Believe it or not, BETSI is just one of 349 ATE projects and centers at community colleges around the country. Covering a wide swath of subjects and specialties alphabetically ranging from A(AgrowKnowledge: The National Center for Agriscience & Technology Education) to W (Water and Wastewater Technician Training Institute at Bowling Green Community College), the ATE programs are designed to support and inspire educators, students and the general public as they explore the depth and breadth of the Advanced Technological Education Program.

You can find descriptions and links to all of these programs, encompassing nearly 3,000 courses, modules, and activities on ATE Central the ATE’s online portal and one-stop shopping resource. ATE Central’s digital library can help direct users to ATE’s full range of easy-to-use online resources, which include curricula, learning objects and podcasts. The portal also serves as a central communication and support point for all of the many individuals involved in ATE centers and projects and through the site’s collaborative tools and reference materials, enable educators to implement successful projects and mentor new projects.

Take a look, but leave yourself plenty of time — from Nanotechnology to Viticulture and Enology Science (wine making) to Terrorist Agent Control Technology and everything in between, there’s a wealth of information and ideas about Advanced Technological Education programs to keep you engrossed for a very long time!

ATETV Episode 37: Careers in Telecom and Biotech are Booming

Monday, June 7th, 2010

This week, we hear from employers and educators in two of today’s fastest growing industries — Biotechnology and Telecommunications — and learn how they are working together to prepare students to emerge as tomorrow’s technicians.

In our first segment, we head to San Diego, a hub of the country’s Biotech industry, where Southwestern Community College is working hand-in-hand with area Biotechnology companies to design the curriculum and develop the classroom skills that will enable students to launch Biotech careers as soon as they graduate.

“We have over 500 Biotechnology companies here in San Diego, and all are in need of entry level technicians,” explains Southwestern’s Nouna Bakhiet, PhD. She adds that when the school’s Biotechnology program was first created in 1999, Southwestern reached out to industry to learn about its specific needs, which enabled them to carefully design the program’s course content. Over the years,industry has come in to co-teach some of the program’s Biotech courses, providing students with firsthand instruction in specific applications. The end result: Students emerge from the program armed with experience and ready to go — many of them actually become managers within only two years of their hire.

In our second segment, we hear about another program that is also preparing students to hit the ground running — this time in the rapidly growing and changing field of Telecommunications. “[Today's Telecom industry] encompasses many things,” explains Andrew Maynard of Springfield Technical Community College. “It encompasses networking, it encompasses computer programming, [it encompasses] web programming.” In fact, the Telecom world today is actually a convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunications, as the use of voice and data are becoming one.

And, as Springfield student Steven Worthing tells us, the school’s relationship with the Telecom industry has provided him with the hands-on experience that is critical for success in such a rapidly changing industry. “I studied a broad course in Computer System Engineering Technology,” explains Steven. But he says that his experience working as a part-time computer telephone technician repairing telephone lines for CRA has really given him the edge when it comes to mastering the skills needed for the field.

“CRA is a nine-year old company, serving the small- and mid-sized business, helping them to successfully navigate working with the telephone companies,” explains CRA’s Laura Bernstein. “We find that [this type of Telecom training] is rare, so we reached out to Springfield Technical Community College to find students that seem to have the predisposition to be good [at this field] and the students seem to be very excited about the opportunity.”

It’s a good match all the way around notes Springfield’s Andrew Maynard. “It’s really nice [for our students] as they’re out there competing for jobs. Not only do they have a degree, but they can demonstrate that they went the extra distance and gained experience, which really shows a certain level of commitment…and understanding of the subject matter. It’s helped many of our students gain employment.”

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!

Starting Early: Bringing Biotech to High Schools

Monday, December 21st, 2009



One of the hottest tech fields right now is biotechnology, especially around San Diego. The need for trained technicians is so great, in fact, that the biotechnology program at nearby Southwestern College (SWC) has begun reaching out to area high schools to bring more young people into the field.

We reached out to Nouna Bakhiet, head of SWC’s biotechnology program and an ATETV advisor, for more details — and for some tips for educators looking to do something similar.

How did the program get started?

The collaboration started when an SWC counselor began working with the principal at nearby Eastlake High School; it then expanded to include two other schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District. SWC collaborated with all three schools and the district superintendent when making its grant application for the program.

How does the program work?

One secret to the program’s success has been the close interaction between college and high school teachers. “The teachers complete a summer workshop to prepare for receiving the outreach in their classrooms,” explains Bakhiet. “SWC Biotechnology Program participants act as teaching assistants to the high school teachers during outreach. SWC college faculty supervise the outreach.”

As for designing the curriculum, Bakhiet says the trick is knowing the existing guidelines and working within them. “There are already in place high school course standards that are aligned with college requirements,” she explains. “We researched these high school standards requirements and designed the outreach activities accordingly. The rigor of the college program remains unchanged.”

And because the SWC biotechnology program has several different tracks, it has been able to accommodate students of varying levels without having to make major changes to its courses.

How is it funded?

SWC’s program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Biotechnology Education and Training Sequence Investment (BETSI) Project. Additional funding to provide equipment to the high schools has come from federal Perkins grants, and from private philanthropy from the LIPP Foundation.

The program is also exploring other innovative funding models. “Starting in 2010, SWC will launch a not-for-profit, student-run business initiative to sustain the BETSI outreach model,” says Bakhiet.

While the NSF remains the single best source of funding for programs of this kind, Bakhiet also notes that special sources of funding are available for historically black institutions and for schools serving hispanic population. “Bio-Link is an excellent source for funding information.”

Has the program succeeded in attracting students to biotechnology?

Yes, and Bakhiet points to the student success stories on SWC’s Web site to prove it. Among them is Marina Watanabe, who has been featured previously on ATETV. Other SWC alums include April Weissmiller, now a graduate student at Stanford; Alberto Rodriguez, who collaborated on a paper published in the science journal Nature; and Amber Perry, who works for Cibus Global, a firm that engineers environmentally friendly crops strains.

What practical advice does Bakhiet have for starting one of these programs?

Start early. “Allocate about one year to research the needs of the region,” Bakhiet advises. She also suggests engaging an experienced grant writer when seeking funding for a collaboration, and to allow three to six months to complete a proposal.

Bakhiet also suggests educators look into serving on the committee of a grant-making institution before applying, so as to observe the process and see what works and what doesn’t.

Educators interested in biotechnology outreach to high schools, and in setting up internships for biotech graduates, should check out the BETSI program model online.

Thanks so much to Nouna Bakhiet for her help this week!

ATETV Episode 10: Back to Fundamentals

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

We’ve been talking a lot about big ideas in ATE on this blog: women in science and tech, social media as an educational tool, and the coming green economy. This week we’re turning to focus on two very practical and important parts of the educational experience: the math and science classes high school students need to be taking to get into ATE programs, and the internships that will help them land jobs after they complete their degrees.

But first, we profile student Matthew Kusza, who is studying environmental technology at Cape Cod Community College. Like many of our previous student profiles, Matthew turned to ATE to help him change careers. “I have four kids, and keeping busy with that and school and working to pay the bills,” he told us. “Most of the classes are at night, so that’s very supportive in terms of a work environment.”

Next we head out west to Southwestern College in San Diego, which has had fantastic success placing students in internships — and placing interns in jobs after school. “We still to this day have a hundred percent hiring rate with the industry of any intern that has completed a ten-week internship with an industry host,” explains Nouna Bakhiet, director of the school’s biotechnology program. By consulting with industry when designing their program, Southwestern is guaranteeing that students are graduating with the skills companies want and need.

Finally, we get back to basics and discuss the importance of basic math and science skills for ATE students. It’s not just that taking those classes in high school will better prepare students for ATE programs; it’s also essential for landing a job afterwards. “In our world, it’s of utmost importance that they have science and math because without that, they don’t have the technical expertise that we require,” explains Jill Heiden of South Carolina-based ESAB Welding and Cutting Products.

Math, science and internships: three fundamental building blocks of a strong ATE program and a successful career and in science and technology.