National Science Foundation: Advanced Technological Education
The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program promotes improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and the secondary school levels. Proposals projects may aim to affect specialized technology courses or core science, mathematics, and technology courses that serve as immediate prerequisites or co-requisites for specialized technology courses/programs. The curricular focus and activities of projects should demonstrably contribute to the ATE program’s central goals: producing more qualified science and engineering technicians to meet workforce demands, and improving the technical skills and the general science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) preparation of these technicians and the educators who prepare them. To this end, it is expected that courses developed or updated will be credit-bearing courses although materials may also support incumbent worker education.
The ATE program focuses on colleges that award two-year degrees in advanced technology fields and expects these colleges and their faculty to have significant leadership roles on all projects. Effective technological education programs should involve partnerships in which two-year institutions work with four-year institutions, secondary schools, business, industry, economic development agencies, and government. The partnerships and collaborations should respond to employers’ hiring needs for highly-skilled technicians with the ability to learn and embrace change. Projects that focus on secondary teachers and students must demonstrate a clear pathway to a two-year technician education program.
Activities may have either a national or a regional focus, but not a purely local one as results and outcomes should be applicable to a broad community. Projects must, however, have an institutional impact and make a case that graduates with these skills will have a measurable impact on the local workforce. The ATE program supports proposals in three major tracks:
1. Projects: This track focuses on one or a few of the following areas:
- Program development and improvement: Projects increase the relevance of technician education to modern practices and assure an increased number of students with an enhanced STEM theoretical understanding and technical skills and competencies entering the high performance workplace.
- Curriculum and educational materials development: Projects focus on curriculum and materials development with the intent of broadly disseminating the developed products. Proposed project activities should affect the learning environment, course content, and experience of instruction for students preparing to be science and engineering technicians and for their teachers.
- Professional development for educators: Projects provide current secondary school teachers and college faculty with opportunities for continued professional growth in areas that directly impact technician education. Activities typically include workshops, intensive seminars, industry internships, or a combination of these.
- Leadership capacity building for faculty: Projects support activities that foster the following faculty skills: 1) working with institutional administration, 2) managing both programs and project/center activities, 3) maintaining industry connections that include local, statewide, and national economic development efforts, and 4) maintaining and cultivating networks with other grantees across funding agencies.
- Teacher preparation: Projects aim to increase the number, quality, and diversity of prospective STEM and/or CTE teachers in pre-service or paraprofessional programs. Projects must involve both two-year and four-year institutions unless the two-year institution offers a four-year baccalaureate program in teacher preparation.
- Business and entrepreneurial skills development for students: Projects encouraged that: 1) educate students to apply technical, professional, industry-related, and entrepreneurship knowledge, skills, and competencies within the context of a technician education program; 2) incorporate global issues and international technological and business practices into technical programs; and 3) introduce technical program students to business plans, marketing strategies, networking and interviewing skills, and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs within the context of the program.
- ATE Coordination Networks (ATE-CN): The goal is to advance a field or create new directions in technician education by supporting faculty, industry, and other stakeholders to communicate and coordinate their research, training, and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries. ATE-CN provides opportunities to foster new collaborations, including international partnerships, and address interdisciplinary topics. ATE-CN awards are not meant to support existing networks, nor are they meant to support the activities of established collaborations.
- Small grants for institutions new to the ATE program: This focus seeks seeks to increase the incentives and opportunities for community colleges that have little or no previous experience with the ATE program to undertake projects to improve science and engineering technician education programs or teacher preparation programs that focus on technological education. This small grants opportunity is designed to stimulate implementation, adaptation, and innovation in all areas supported by the ATE program and to broaden the base of community colleges participating in the program. It is expected that some of the funded projects in this category will serve as a prototype or pilot for an idea that may be expanded in a future proposal for an ATE project. The ATE program is particularly interested in projects addressing issues in rural technician education.
- Adaptation and Implementation (A&I): This focus aims to increase the pace of innovation diffusion and encourages the use of innovative materials and practices of demonstrated effectiveness in courses and programs. A successful proposal must provide evidence that the innovative materials and practices have been effective at other named institutions and provide realistic implementation plans that explain why the materials and practices are anticipated to be effective for the students enrolled at the applicant’s campus.
- Instrumentation acquisition with curricular modifications to support the instrumentation: This focus seeks to support existing programs that, in partnership with industry, have identified new instrumentation needs. In addition to justifying the need to update instrumentation, the proposal should clearly describe the curricular modifications that will be developed to support the student gain in knowledge, competencies, and skills that relate to the changing technical workplace.
2. Centers: The ATE program recognizes the need to develop an integrated approach to technician education that will define and disseminate the critical knowledge and skills required to support the advanced technology industries in the U.S. A center may be supported in the following areas: Advanced manufacturing technologies, Agricultural technologies, Biotechnology, Energy technologies, Environmental technologies, Engineering technologies, Information technologies, Security technologies, Micro- and Nano-technologies, and an emerging advanced technology field, justified by the potential for career opportunities for two-year college graduates. Centers have a carefully articulated mission that advances the ATE program’s mission. Center proposals should:
- Support systemic reform, broad outreach, community-building, and leadership development among educational institutions, industry, professional and trade associations, educators, and practicing technicians
- Establish an effective dialogue with existing and new ATE projects in the same or related technological fields across the nation
- Mentor prospective PIs to broaden the impact of ATE
- Promote technician careers and visibility and the public image in the field(s) on which the center is focused
- Address technician knowledge, skills, and competencies needed for the evolving, converging, and emerging technical workplace
- Provide faculty professional development opportunities within their area of expertise
- Develop a plan for achieving sustainability and institutionalization of key center functions following the period of NSF funding
Additional Centers funding includes:
- Resource Centers: After 10 years, ATE centers may submit a proposal that describes a plan to continue a subset of center practices along with new objectives that will support technological education in their respective field. These centers will be termed “Resource Centers.”
- Center planning grant: These are planning grants for centers.
3. Targeted research on technician education: The goals are: 1) to simulate and support research on technician education in established and emerging advanced technology fields in STEM; and 2) to build the partnership capacity between 2-year and 4-year institutions and universities with industry input to design and conduct research and development projects. The track seeks applied research and research and development projects that investigate issues related to the education and workforce development of middle skills technicians in STEM-oriented fields. This track supports three levels of research efforts (these include applied research and research and development): 1) planning and pilot studies; 2) exploratory research and development, which include research projects that may be built on results from a pilot study or design research study; and 3) full scale research and development, which involves projects that are expected to include research on and implementation with other types of participants, at other locations, and under different conditions to test development efforts or innovations.
4. Conferences and workshops: The ATE program supports a small number of conferences, workshops, and special projects that lead to a better understanding of issues in advanced technological education. These efforts must be related to the mission of the ATE program.
Amount: A total of $59,000,000 is available to award 45-75 grants that range from $225,000 to $600,000. Specific award information per track is detailed below:
- Approximately 20-25 new awards, ranging from $75,000-$200,000 per year and having a duration of up to three years (maximum budget not to exceed $600,000, including ATE-CN).
- Small grants for institutions new to the ATE program: approximately 12-20 awards for up to $225,000 (each) typically spread over three years. It is expected that the budget request will match the scope of the project.
- Adaptation and Implementation: approximately 10-15 awards each totaling $300,000-$400,000 typically spread over two to three years.
- Instrumentation Acquisition: approximately four awards each totaling $400,000-$500,000 typically spread over two to three years.
2. Centers: Funding will be $5 million spread over five years, with the possibility of a competitive grant renewal for $5 million over an additional five years. It is expected that 1-2 awards may be made each year.
- Resource centers: Funding will be $600,000 spread over three-years with the possibility of a competitive renewal for an additional three-years. It is expected that one to two awards may be made each year.
- Planning grants for centers: one to two new awards for up to $70,000 (each) to develop well-formulated plans for a future center.
3. Targeted Research on Technician Education: up to 5 new awards, ranging from $150,000 total for up to two years to $800,000 total for up to three years. Specifically:
- Planning and pilot study: $150,000 total with a duration up to 2 years
- Exploratory research and development: $300,000 total with a duration up to 2 years
- Full scale research and development: $800,000 total with a duration up to 3 years
Eligibility: Universities and colleges; nonprofit, non-academic organizations; for-profit organizations; state and local governments, including state educational offices or organizations and local school districts. Proposals are encouraged from Minority Serving Institutions (including Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions) and other institutions that support the recruitment, retention, and completion of students underrepresented in STEM in technician education programs that award associate degrees.
Note: This competition will also be held in 2018 and 2019 with the following deadlines: October 4, 2018 and October 3, 2019.
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