Posts Tagged ‘state of the union’

ATE Programs Are Built On Collaboration

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

By now, you have undoubtedly heard the name Jackie Bray. She is the single Mom from Charlotte, North Carolina that President Obama identified on Tuesday night in his State of the Union Address. Jackie had lost her job as a mechanic. What happened next is a strong example of the partnerships happening between community colleges and industries all around the country. According to President Obama, the company Siemens “opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College” Siemens worked with the college to design courses in laser and robotics training, paid Jackie’s tuition, and hired her to help operate their plant.

Shifts in the economy, changing workforce demands, the growing need to provide widespread access to up to date skills and the unique position of community colleges to meet the demands of their individual regions is what has driven these partnerships with the private sector. And perhaps nowhere have these partnerships been more successful than in the already established practices of Advanced Technological Education programs around the country.

In building a successful partnership, consider the following five factors from the UCLA Community College Review:

1. Recognize a local/regional economic development challenge that calls for collaborative attention

Through regular conversations that identify common interests or community concerns civic leaders, industry representatives and community college administrators can formulate plans to address them. For example, at South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center (SCATE), they facilitate this through the establishment of an Industry Consortium. Established in 1996, this model “provides a framework for colleges and their business/industry partners to work together to ensure a highly skilled technical workforce.”

2. Establish a shared mission and goals

The Laramie County Community College and officials of Wyoming for example share a common goal for increasing business opportunities in their region. On a national level, the Obama administration has set a goal to increase the amount of power generated from the wind to 20% by 2030. In Wyoming, wind reaches 30 to 40 mph with gusts of 50 or 60 mph. It is an ideal place to generate electricity from it and thus it presents a viable industry for the state’s future economy. Local communities therefore are very involved with the Wind Energy industry and working to incorporate it into their workforce. In response, Laramie County Community College in partnership with industry representatives at companies like Duke Energy Generation Services has created a successful, related degree program which was profiled in ATETV Episode 46.

3. Ensure that value is achieved for all partners (including students)

To ensure that a partnership is successful, community colleges working with private industry must identify the benefits up front, provide regular opportunities to reassess them and be flexible enough to change them when industry demands. Because all ATE Centers are created as cooperative efforts in which two-year colleges work with four-year colleges and universities, secondary schools, business, industry, and government, they’re organized to function this way from the start. Their programs are all designed to always be mutually beneficial. According to the NSF, these programs include: development of resources, such as high-quality programs and curricula that reflect the modern technological workplace, the training and placement of both mentors and interns, and the on-going evaluation of the center’s materials and services and their impact on student learning, and on employers and the institutions that manage the center.

4. Have strong executive leadership from both the college and industry participants

Every ATE National Center has organizational leadership that works to establish the initial vision, goals, and values that will inform all subsequent decisions. These leaders often include both industry and education professionals. SpaceTec, the National Science Foundation’s Center for Aerospace Technical Education in Florida, for example, has a “SpaceTec Partners, Inc Board”, which is comprised of representatives that include the President of Brevard Community College as well as the Director of Florida Operations at the Bionetics Corporation.

5. Develop a governance and accountability mechanisms

Advanced Technological Education programs achieve this in many ways. One example is by establishing a National Visiting Committee. At Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FL-ATE), their committee is made up of leaders in industry, education, workforce and economic development from across the nation, with local representation. Committee members meet regularly with Fl-ATE staff to ensure stated goals and objectives are met.

To create a similar partnership in your community to the one mentioned in the State of the Union Address, you have only to look as far as an ATE Center for help. Advanced Technological Education programs have a successful track record with this work that reflects the benefits of such collaborations. It is because of this, that students get exposure to a wide range of technologies and will graduate with the experience they require to make them highly marketable.

The State of the Union: Science and Technology

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The State of the Union: Science and Technology

Science and technology played major roles in President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address last Tuesday night, January 25th, as he emphasized the need for America to maintain its leadership in “a rapidly changing world,” in order to keep our economy on course.

As the President described, “In a single generation, revolutions in technology have [already] transformed the way we live, work and do business.” To continue to maintain this momentum, he explained, the country will invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology, “an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Not surprisingly, training students for careers in clean technologies, green building, biotech, and cutting-edge information technology are also central to the missions of Advanced Technological Education and community colleges across the country. We thought we’d take this opportunity to recap some of the resources available to students and job-seekers in the fields of biotech, IT, and clean energy — the technologies that will help provide our economy’s momentum in the years to come.

Clean energy:

The President has proposed an ambitious plan of generating 80 percent of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. ATEEC, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center promotes and supports environmental and energy technology education, partnering with industry to provide a foundation for the nation’s sustainable future. Sustainable energy draws on resources that will never run out — be it wind power or solar energy — and also focuses on refurbishing existing buildings with renewable materials, and performing energy audits to help businesses and other institutions to reduce waste and pollution. Last year, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) launched the Sustainability Education and Economy Development (SEED) Center an online resource to help prepare workers for the future green economy.

Biotech:

The President’s speech also addressed the need for investment in biomedical research, one of the keys to the future development of new drugs and vaccines.

Since its emergence in the 1970s, the biotech field has already created more than 200 new therapies, diagnostics, and vaccines, including products to treat cancer and diabetes, as well as methods to keep our blood supply safe. Therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease are among the hundreds more biotech products currently being tested. As ATE’s Bio-Link describes, Associates’ degrees from Bio-Link programs provide students with lessons in the cutting-edge techniques, technologies and equipment related to molecular biology, recombinant DNA, immunology, protein purification and tissue culture — the integral components of the biotech industry. To learn more about job opportunities in the biosciences and genetics, check out Bio-Link’s Career Page.

Information Technology:

Finally, the President also called for new efforts to ensure that the U.S. has the fastest, most reliable ways to move and share data through the high-speed Internet. His National Wireless Initiative will enable business to grow faster, helps students learn more and provide public safety officials with access to state-of-the-art, secure, mobile communications, according to a report on Scicasts. To learn more about the many educational opportunities and career options available in the widespread IT industry, check out the related Advanced Technological Education Centers.

Growing Green Jobs

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Last week’s State of the Union address was all about jobs, and one promising avenue for job growth the President highlighted is the new green economy.

In his speech, Obama framed the need to invest in those types of jobs in terms of keeping pace with international competitors like China, Germany and India. “These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.”

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, China is now the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and is making gains in other green fields as well.

If America wants to keep up, ATE programs at community colleges will be vital to training new green workers and retraining older workers for new green jobs. Perhaps that’s why President Obama repeated his call for more funding for community colleges in his speech last week, calling them “a career pathway for the children of many working families.”

There are two sides to greening the economy: investing in new renewable energy projects or cleaner transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail; and improving energy efficiency in order to better conserve heat and electricity. We saw an example of each of these types of green jobs in this week’s episode. At Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, students are learning how to operate and maintain the wind turbines that are popping up across the West.

Meanwhile, at Sinclair Community College, students are working with local affordable housing groups to conduct green energy audits and weatherize homes. And both of these types of jobs need to be done here, in America; they can’t be sent overseas.

The hope is that last year’s unprecedented federal investment in basic scientific research will seed a new green manufacturing sector, building advanced batteries and solar cells. That will mean new green jobs for laid-off manufacturing workers, but first they’ll be need to be retrained. And ATE programs at community colleges across the country will be on the front lines of that training.

Click here to read about some of the green job titles expected to see the biggest growth in the coming years.