Record Number of ATE Centers & Projects Attend the Annual NSF ATE PI Conference

The American Association of Community Colleges with the support of the National Science Foundation held the 24th National ATE Principal Investigators Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. This year the conference brought together approximately 850 participants representing community colleges, business and industry, secondary school systems, and four-year colleges. The theme/main focus of the conference was on the critical issues related to advanced technological education.

This year 39 ATE Centers, including FLATE, participated in the show case session where there

were approximately 199 booths with NSF sponsored projects. The Showcase sessions provided grantees an opportunity to exhibit their projects, products and share information about their programs, mission and vision. Florida was very well represented with projects from Lake Sumter State College - Enhancing an Energy Technology Associate Degree Program to Meet Employer Needs; North Florida Community College - Manufacturing Certifications for Rural HS students through Community College Dual Enrollment; Palm Beach State College - Increasing graduates in STEM discipline with the InnovATE project; St. Johns River State College - Enhancing Critical Reasoning in Computer Education; Seminole State College of Florida – EMERGE: Establishing a Means for Effective Renewable/Green Energy; University of South Florida - PathTech LIFE Engineering Technology National Survey; and Valencia College - Broadening Education, Access, and Momentum (BEAM) in Energy Management and Controls Technology.

FLATE has been involved with several other organizations, grant projects, and institutions to work on projects that are synergistic and supportive of our focused goals and objectives. In addition to the showcase, FLATE participated in two interactive and substantive discussions panel sessions: the PathTech LIFE National Survey and the Emerging Trends in Mechatronics Education.

The PathTech LIFE: Informing Targeted Research and Best Practices seeks to understand how

student learning, interests, family, and employment (LIFE) experiences impact enrollment and retention. During the session attendees had the opportunity to discuss how targeted research findings can be applied to program development and administration. Updates on findings from the PathTech LIFE national surveys were provided and included some of the most important student motivations for entering advanced technology programs. More information about the national survey visit will be provided and posted on the project website at a future date. At the end of the session participants had the opportunity to discuss strategies for conducting the survey in their colleges, discussed best practices for designing research programs aimed at understanding student pathways, and finally debated how research can inform program policy and best practices.

Emerging Trends in Mechatronics Education, 2017 has been full of “mechatronics” activities for FLATE and its partners not only in Florida, but across the country. During the PI Conference,

FLATE had the opportunity to put together a very distinguished panel which included Doug Pauley, Central Community College, Grand Island, NE; Margie Porter, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL; Dan Horine, Virginia Western Community College; Roanoke, VA; Hunter Moore, Piedmont Virginia Community College; Charlottesville, VA; and Marilyn Barger, FLATE, Hillsborough Community College; Tampa, FL. This panel shared how ATE projects are working to meet the growing needs in this spectrum of industries for mechatronics, automation, and/or robotic technicians. Participants learned how these projects are improving their own programs and shared successful strategies to meet the industry’s workforce and emerging technology needs. Mechatronics is the heart of automation in many industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, food processing, precision agriculture, mining, energy production, scientific research, public utilities, transportation, materials handling, and more.

For information about the NSF ATE projects and centers visit For information on FLATE and its partnership with other NSF ATE centers and activities contact Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit

PathTech LIFE-Learning, Interests, Family, and Employment Experiences Influencing Pathways into Advanced Technologies (NSF #1501999)

Researchers from the University of South Florida’s Department of Sociology and College of

Education and the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) are conducting a national survey of individuals completing coursework, certification, and AS/AAS degrees in advanced technologies at community colleges. The purpose of this national survey, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is to identify the characteristics of two-year college students across various technology fields, their academic pathways, career goals, and school-work-life balance issues that impact their decisions to enroll, return for further coursework, and/or pursue a certificate or degree. The information that you provide will help improve the academic and career support colleges’ offer to students completing coursework in advanced technology fields.

Technology programs include Engineering technology, Advanced manufacturing, Micro and nano technology, Energy and environmental technology. Please forward this information to colleagues responsible for your CTE and Career Pathways programs. If you have a conflict and cannot attend, please consider sending a representative.

For more information contact Will Tyson- PI,, and Ben Reid, 

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