Mentor-Connect is a leadership development and outreach initiative for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advanced Technological Education Program (ATE). It’s designed to provide mentors, faculty development, and resources to help community colleges apply for and benefit from ATE. Basically, it’s a catalyst for the advancement of technician education.
ATE began in 1993, and has since provided grants to colleges in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. These grants often have gone to large colleges in urban areas. That’s where Mentor-Connect comes in. The program has so far served a total of 81 college teams over four cohorts and has increased the diversity of colleges submitting proposals to—and receiving grants from—the ATE program.
“Evidence that Mentor-Connect is adding geographic diversity to NSF-ATE proposals comes from the fact that 55 of the 61 colleges in the first three Mentor-Connect cohorts submitted proposals to NSF,” Madeline Patton wrote in a ATE@20 blog post.
But it’s not just geographic diversity that’s increased. The quality of NSF-ATE proposals also has increased. In the first two Mentor-Connect cohorts, 61% of the colleges submitting proposals received funding, exceeding ATE’s program-wide funding rate of 22%.
What’s the secret to success? One-on-one mentoring. Mentors are seasoned and successful principal investigators for the NSF-ATE program. Mentor-Connect colleges also get technical assistance through webinars and gain access to a repository of digital resources.
Mentor-Connect is now accepting applications. If your college has not received NSF grant funding in the past 10 years, has a need to develop or strengthen STEM technician education programs, could benefit from improved leadership skills among STEM faculty, and would like assistance in preparing a competitive grant proposal for NSF’s ATE program, Mentor-Connect is for you. Deadline to apply for Mentor-Connect: October 12, 2016.
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Photo: Athens Technical College instructor Edward Kiszkachecks a part made with a five-axis computer numeric controlled (CNC) machine.