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Frequently Asked Question's - ANSWERS
1. What is SC ATE?
The SC Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Center is an initiative that began in South Carolina in 1996 for the purpose of increasing the quantity, quality, and diversity of engineering technology graduates. The ATE name comes from the ATE program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). SC ATE is focused on improving associate degree engineering technology (ET) programs at two-year colleges in South Carolina and across the nation. SC ATE has received multiple grants from NSF in support of this work. The initiative now operates as an ATE Center of Excellence and National Resource Center for Engineering Technology Education.

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2. What can SC ATE do for my college or me?
Some examples of help and resources SC ATE can provide include:
  • A website for accessing a broad range of resources for ET educators.
  • Curriculum addressing the general education component for ET majors.
  • 22 workplace-related modules.
  • Interdisciplinary faculty team development and curriculum training.
  • Integrated, problem-based courses of study for pre-engineering technology and the first year of engineering technology.
  • Mentoring to help with ATE projects.

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3. Is SC ATE a consortium? How many partners are involved?
For the first seven years, SC ATE was a partnership among the 16 technical colleges making up the SC Technical College System. In 2002, Florence-Darlington and Piedmont Technical Colleges assumed leadership as the project moved into a new phase. Florence-Darlington Technical College is the fiscal agent, and the SC ATE Center is housed on the FDTC campus in Florence, South Carolina. Numerous external partnerships have been established throughout the SC ATE initiative for advisory purposes, resource/expertise sharing, recruitment and retention of students, placement of graduates, and adapt and implement projects.

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4. Does SC ATE have 4-year college partners? What is their role?
Our Advisory Board has had as many as 25 members representing K-12, 4-yr. college/research university, industry, and some other government entities such as SC Educational TV and the Employment and Security Commission. We have had as many as 7 industry members, but they are hard to get to come to meetings, and we have found significant turnover in industry personnel over the life of our project.

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5. Does SC ATE have industry partners? What is their role?
SC ATE's industry partners have contributed to almost every aspect of the project, from assisting with curriculum development to serving on the Advisory Board and National Visiting Committee. Industries have hosted meetings for the project at their facilities and become involved in "growing technicians" to meet industry needs through SC ATE's innovative ATE Scholars initiative. Descriptions of the ATE Scholars initiative and a list of participating companies may be found elsewhere on the website.

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6. Does SC ATE have an advisory board? How many members? From what sectors?
SC ATE's statewide Advisory Board had 25 members representing K-12, 4-year college/university, and government entities such as the Employment Security Commission and SC Educational TV. Representatives from seven industries have served on the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board discontinued regular meetings at the end of the sixth year of the SC ATE Center of Excellence. Advisory Board members now serve as consultants to the project on an as-needed basis. The project now has only a National Visiting Committee serving in a "formal" advisory capacity.

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7. Are you developing/modifying new curriculum? If so, how many courses/degrees/certificates?
SC ATE has developed 22 modules for two major curriculum components: the ET Core Curriculum and the Technology Gateway. The ET Core curriculum is a three-semester course of study that provides the general education component of the first year of study for ET majors in the context of solving "real-world," industry-based problems. The Technology Gateway is a one-semester, pre-engineering technology curriculum that prepares students to be successful in engineering technology majors. There are 11 courses (27 credit hours) in the ET Core curriculum and 3 courses (9 credit hours) in the Technology Gateway. Both curricula integrate mathematics, communications, physical science, and technology through problem-based learning and just-in-time instruction.

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8. Do you have a physical center that is shared among the member institutions?
No. The SC ATE Center of Excellence has always been a virtual resource focused on multi-discipline and cross-campus/cross-college collaboration.

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9. What difficulties have you encountered in implementing/designing your program?
Enthusiasm for the "new and improved" can wane quickly when project activity moves from talking and learning about new approaches and developing curriculum to actually implementing the new approaches and use of new curriculum. Also, institutional leaders must recognize that innovations take time to result in hard data indicating success. Proof of success is often requested before the project has had an opportunity to generate much data.

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10. What type of faculty development activities have you found effective in promoting classrooms that model the workplace?
Most effective, perhaps, is getting faculty out into industry in interdisciplinary teams to learn first hand what their students need to know and be able to do in today's workplace. SC ATE's workplace research activity has had a particularly significant impact on general education faculty with little or no industrial exposure. The experience tends to radically re-order their priorities for content coverage. Multi-discipline, problem-based learning, just-in-time teaching, and the use of both faculty and student teams creates a learning environment that models the workplace.

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11. How has SC ATE facilitated a seamless educational pipeline for students to pursue engineering technology degrees?
SC ATE has introduced the Technology Gateway as a dual-credit model in high schools. Students completing the Technology Gateway have the prerequisite skills to be successful in ET majors. The Technology Gateway is also offered at the college for slightly under-prepared freshmen. The pathway includes opportunities for 2-year to 4-year college transfer with an associate degree in ET from participating colleges.

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SC ATE Center of Excellence - Florence-Darlington Technical College - 2715 West Lucas Street ~ P.O. Box 100548
Florence, SC 29502-0548 - (843)676-8547 - e-mail: - Copyright & Disclaimer Information