Articles in Category: News

Summer Workshop Zooms In On Final Details for Proposal Submissions

In addition to one-on-one time with their mentors 20 faculty teams received granular-detail tips during Mentor-Connect’s Summer Technical Assistance and Grants Workshop on July 23 in St. Louis.

They heard from V. Celeste Carter and Thomas B. Higgins, two National Science Foundation program officers, three former Mentor-Connect mentees—Laura Berry of North Arkansas College, Justin Tickhill of North Central State College, and Ken Mays of Central Oregon Community College–whose ATE grants have instigated other positive changes on their campuses, as well as Mentor-Connect staff members.

All the speakers at the daylong workshop encouraged the mentees to submit their proposals to the Advanced Technological Education program in advance of the October 3 deadline.

To boost their confidence in the final stretch of proposal preparations, Mentor-Connect Evaluator David Hata shared the news that 15 of the 21 community colleges that received Mentor-Connect mentoring in 2018 have received funding awards from the National Science Foundation in the Small-Grants-for-Colleges-New-to ATE program track.

“We’re really, really excited about the success of Cohort 6,” Principal Investigator Elaine Craft said, referring to 2018 mentee teams who set a new one-year record of successful proposals for Mentor-Connect.

“Our success rate is about 70% and a lot of credit goes to our team of mentors,” Hata said. He also praised Mentor-Connect’s leadership team for making adjustments to the program in response to mentees’ and mentors’ comments and other data. “We’ve tried to improve the program each year,” he said.

Energy and enthusiasm was high among the mentees throughout the day’s panel discussions and team work sessions.

Skip Berry, assistant of Business, Information Systems and Technology at Riverside City College, was grateful for the question-and-answer session with the NSF program offices. “Their very direct feedback was very helpful,” he said.

Susan Ingersoll, professor and program director of Biotechnology at the Lake Nona Campus of Valencia Community College, was impressed by the expertise of her mentor Elaine Johnson and the other presenters. “They explain the nuances you wouldn’t get from a webinar or reading the PAPPG (Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide),” she said.  

Ron Umehira, dean of Career and Technical Education at Leeward Community College, thanked the Mentor-Connect for the opportunity to learn at the workshop and at the HI-TEC Conference, which the mentees are attending with support from the American Association of Community Colleges.

Craft’s wrap up message blended optimism with a strong nudge to finish strong: “We fully expect most of you to be implementing grants this time next year.”

Mentor-Connect Helped Northland Team Build ATE Network that Led to Center Grant

New Center PI with Mentor-Connect Mentor

Jonathan Beck, principal investigator of the recently funded National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) attributes the new center’s “systems of systems” approach for autonomous vehicle technicians to what he and other team members have learned from the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) community beginning with Mentor-Connect.

He credits Mel Cossette, who was the Mentor-Connect mentor of the Northland Community and Technical College team led by Beck in 2014, with setting those collaborative relationships in motion. Cossette, who is principal investigator of National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU), continues to serve as an informal advisor to the Northland team.

“She was instrumental in helping to guide us based on where we were going, what we were trying to accomplish, who good contacts would be for some of the core areas that we were trying to shape and grow through our small project, our large project, and ultimately the center. And without that guidance of those key points of contact as we formed our network, I don’t think we would have been successful on getting to where we are at with the ATE program. I think it is because of that constant mentoring, making sure our ideas were aligned to the program, and helping us identify those right resources that were already out there. That’s what’s allowed us to be so successful in such a short period of time,” Beck said during an interview at the 2019 HI-TEC Conference in St. Louis.  

Read the August 5 ATE Impacts Blog to learn more about the cross-discipline partnerships the new center plans to use to prepare technicians for careers working on unmanned vehicles that operate on land, sea, or air.

Mentor-Connect is led by the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center at Florence-Darlington Technical College in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1003733. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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