Posts Tagged ‘Students’

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 13: Technology in the Lab and on the Farm

Monday, December 14th, 2009

This week we’re exploring how ATE programs are preparing students for work not only in traditional high-tech settings like medical laboratories and electronics shops, but also out in the fields of American agriculture.
First, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain has turned his childhood passion for science into a two-year degree, a paid apprenticeship at a pharmaceutical company, and now a four-year degree at the University of New Hampshire. You can read an update about him here. [LINK]
Next we head to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Kelsey Meyerhoff is working towards her own two-year degree in agricultural technology. Among other things, she’s learning to use GPS technology to track soil samples in the field, a skill she first learned in a workshop while still in high school. Her classes are predominantly male, but Kelsey says that doesn’t bother her. “It’s just a challenge you push through, and you don’t look at it as something that holds you back,” she says.
Finally this week, we meet a dedicated educator who is sharing what he learned during his long career. Richard LeBlanc is the head of the electronics department at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, where he teaches students to repair electronic equipment, including many of the advanced medical devices used in hospitals today. A graduate of the institute himself, LeBlanc knows the value of ATE programs firsthand. He also knows, from his industry contacts, that teaching students how to communicate effectively is just as important as teaching the technicaThis week we’re exploring how ATE programs are preparing students for work not only in traditional high-tech settings like medical laboratories and electronics shops, but also out in the fields of American agriculture.

First, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain has turned his childhood passion for science into a two-year degree, a paid apprenticeship at a pharmaceutical company, and now a four-year degree at the University of New Hampshire.

Next we head to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Kelsey Meyerhoff is working towards her own two-year degree in agricultural technology. Among other things, she’s learning to use GPS technology to track soil samples in the field, a skill she first learned in a workshop while still in high school. Her classes are predominantly male, but Kelsey says that doesn’t bother her. “It’s just a challenge you push through, and you don’t look at it as something that holds you back,” she says.

Finally this week, we meet a dedicated educator who is sharing what he learned during his long career. Richard LeBlanc is the head of the electronics department at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, where he teaches students to repair electronic equipment, including many of the advanced medical devices used in hospitals today. A graduate of the institute himself, LeBlanc knows the value of ATE programs firsthand. He also knows, from his industry contacts, that teaching students how to communicate effectively is just as important as teaching the technical skills.

GeoTech Center GIS Lesson Plans

Monday, December 7th, 2009


As this week’s episode indicates, GIS — geographic information sciences — is a hot topic right now. But what is all the fuss about — and, more importantly for educators, how do you teach GIS to students?

To answer those questions, we turned to the The National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence; an NSF-funded consortium of academics, government and industry dedicated to growing GIS education. GIS is booming because it has applications across many industries, from green energy and forestry to urban planning and even homeland security. “Any field that needs to know something about what is where, why is it there and how it has changed over time can benefit from using geospatial technology,” explains Ann Johnson, Higher Education Manager for ESRI, a GIS software company and a GeoTech Center partner.

Ann’s company hosts a GIS Education Community online that lets educators share their GIS lesson plans. On the site you’ll find everything you need to prepare a lesson on the real-world applications of GIS technology. Here are three examples of what’s available:

Landslides in Washington – 3D Investigations: Students use GIS software to explore the cause of a massive October 2009 landslide in Washington State.
Scariest Road in the World? Death Road, Bolivia: GIS shows why the notorious “El Camino del Muerte” between La Paz and Coroico, Bolivia is worthy of its name.
Water Use Analysis with GIS: Students learn valuable skills by analyzing actual data from the U.S. Census and other sources.

    You can also visit ESRI’s YouTube channel to see these lesson plans in action. Hopefully these materials will inspire educators reading this to consider adding GIS to their curricula. Thanks again to ESRI’s Ann Johnson and to GeoTech Center Director Phillip Johnson for their help with this post!

    ATETV Episode 5; Plus, ATETV Reports Live From the 2009 NSF ATE Conference!

    Monday, October 19th, 2009

    ATETV episode 5 is up, and this week we’re reporting on three different ATE success stories. First, we meet a young single mother studying process technology to improve life for her and her family. Then we see how the geospatial technology is bringing the centuries-old craft of surveying into the 21st century. Finally, we learn how internships are getting ATE students into jobs even before they graduate.

    In other news, Wednesday through Friday this week the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation are holding the 16th National ATE Principal Investigators Conference in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Technicians and the Green Economy,” and the conference organizers have followed through by “greening” proceedings, down to the 100-percent recycled reusable water bottles handed out to all participants.

    In addition to discussing the meeting’s very timely theme, participants will attend sessions about making the most of their NSF grants, showcase their projects and network with ATE professionals in their fields from across the country. There’s even a session on making the most of social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, led by ATETV advisor Gordon Snyder and featuring Mike Qaissaunee, the star of last week’s cloud computing segment.

    In order to bring you an insider’s perspective on this week’s event, we’ve recruited two ATE students who will be in attendance to serve as ATETV correspondents. Josh Cleburn is a student at Lee College in Baytown, Texas, just outside Houston. Josh is the president of the school’s section of ISA — The Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society.

    Also reporting for us is Cristina Curatolo, who is representing Nashville State Community College at the conference. Originally, from Romania, Cristina is a student in NSCC’s Visual Communications program specializing in Multimedia Design. “For me this is a real honor and shows me how much my instructors respect the work that I have done,” Cristina said of attending this year’s conference. You can see an example of her work on her iTunes podcast.

    Thanks to Josh and Cristina for their help, and check back in here for more from this year’s conference.  Our correspondent team will be sending live updates throughout the conference via Twitter and uploading photos via Facebook after the event.

    We are also starting a discussion in the forum called ATE Conference: Technicians in the Green Economy.  Students, teachers, and other conference attendees can share their thoughts in this thread and keep us updated throughout the week.

    We also would love to see your photos and hear your updates in our Facebook fan page.  Feel free to post photos and share your experiences with us.  For those “tweeting” from the event, follow our hashtag #ATEPI to stay up to date!

    Cloud Computing and ATETV Updates

    Monday, October 12th, 2009

    Episode 4 of ATETV is up today, and things are heating up on ATETV.org. We’re busy planning our coverage of the upcoming National Science Foundation ATE Conference, which starts October 21.  The event is only open to principal investigators on NSF grants, but we’re recruiting attendees to send live twitter updates from the proceedings for us. We’ll also have some follow-up stories coming out of the gathering in the weeks to come.

    For our last segment this week, we hit Times Square to ask passers-by about a tech term that’s been in the news lately: cloud computing.  We got some pretty creative responses, which you can see in the video above.

    Basically, cloud computing refers to moving data and applications off the hard drives in individual computers and into the “cloud”:  farms of servers that can be accessed by any computer or mobile device, anywhere, anytime.

    “All the software lives in the cloud. You no longer have to worry about installing software,” says Mike Qaissaunee, associate professor at Brookdale Community College.  “You no longer have to worry about downloading updates.”

    Web-based email programs like Hotmail and Gmail are early examples of cloud computing.  With those services, your inbox doesn’t exist on your computer but on a server at Microsoft or Google.

    If you’ve used an online service like Apple’s MobileMe to synchronize your contacts or calendar between your computer and your PDA, you’ve used cloud computing. If you’ve run any program in your Web browser instead of off your hard drive, you’ve been up in the cloud as well.

    Google Docs, which lets users edit and share text and spreadsheets with coworkers online, is a more sophisticated example.  That sort of online collaboration is the big advantage of cloud computing, says Qaissaunee.  “It changes the whole way that you work.”

    Apart from changing the way coworkers and students collaborate, cloud computing also means big opportunities for ATE students.  Storing more data in the cloud means more servers that need to be maintained, and since users expect access to their data 24/7, those servers need to be up and running constantly.

    That means new careers for technicians who can maintain those servers.  More servers also means more electricity usage, which puts even greater strain on our energy resources. As cloud computing ramps us, so will the demand for alternative energy sources and conservation.  That means more jobs in green tech.

    Cloud computing also presents new challenges in privacy and security. How should companies stores users’ personal information in the cloud?  How do they protect users’ data from identity theft?  As computer scientists and companies grapple with these issues, ATE programs and community colleges will be a vital link between the latest tech and the students who will be putting it into practice.

    For more thoughts on cloud computing and other science and tech topics, check out cloud computing expert, Mike Qaissaunee’s blog.