10 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL AACC.NCHE.EDU
Columbus State Community College President
David Harrison calls Advanced Technological
Education (ATE) grants from the National Science
Foundation (NSF) “the best source of venture capi-
tal in the technological space.”
He should know. In August, Columbus State
received two more ATE grant award letters,
bringing its total of active ATE grants to 10 with
one proposal pending. Since spring, the college’s
five-person grants office, has been working with
faculty to prepare two applications ahead this
year’s Oct. 15 grant proposal deadline.
“It’s not about getting grants; it’s about getting
support for work that we’re going to do anyway.
The grant investments allow us to do it faster,
to do it better in a lot of cases,” Harrison says.
His connection to ATE dates to 1994 when, in his
second year of teaching at Sinclair Community
College, he received a $3 million grant to create
the National Center of Excellence for Advanced
Manufacturing Education. Then and now, ATE
center grants are the most competitive; his was
one of three center grants made in the program’s
first round of funding.
He and the two other ATE pioneers have the
same message for two-year college educators:
encourage faculty to go after ATE grants and tap
into ATE’s free resources, which include top-notch
professional development, innovative curricula and
up-to-date instructional materials.
ATE is NSF’s largest investment in associ-ate-degree-granting institutions. Since 1993, when
the ATE program officially started with National
Science Board approval and Federal Register
announcement, NSF has invested $1.11 billion
through competitive grants to more than 700
institutions and organizations.
NSF program officers created the ATE program in
response to the Scientific and Advanced Technology
Act of 1992, which President George H. W. Bush signed
into law Oct. 23, 1992. The American Association of
Community Colleges (AACC) has been a partner on
ATE since the very beginning.
“For 25 years, we have supported many wonder-
ful educators at two-year colleges,” NSF Director
France A. Córdova wrote in an introductory letter
to ATE Impacts 2018-2019. “Through the ATE pro-
gram, NSF encourages faculty at two-year colleges
to serve as principal investigators of ATE centers
and projects that expand technician education in
STEM [science, technology, engineering and math],
thus broadening participation in STEM among a
more diverse population of students.”
Over the years, the ATE program has grown
and responded to new technologies. However,
NSF program officers have left intact three key
The South Carolina Advanced
Technological Education Center
located at Florence-Darlington
Technical College helps bring
populations underrepresented in STEM
fields into the technical workforce.
At 25, ATE’s impact continues to grow
By Madeline Patton