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The ATE Principal Investigators Conference

Grant partners and staff from the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) recently attended the National Science Foundation’s ATE (AdvanceTechnological Education) Principal Investigators (PI) conference in Washington, DC.  That’s the annual gathering of ATE center and project grantees from all over the country.  The conference offers a great opportunity for collaboration and networking, as 800 or so like-minded ATE grantees spend a jam-packed three days filling one end of the Omni Shoreham hotel for keynotes, workshops, roundtables, and exhibit hall receptions. It was the 25th year for the conference, which meant branded cookies.

ATE cookies

During one of the conference’s evening showcases, your National CTC hosted an exhibit hall booth to disseminate its resources and best practices.  The most popular items, as always, were the “Get Connected” flyer and the new BILT essentials brochure.  We also made more than a few laminated luggage tags – pairing conference attendee business cards with our bright green branded logo.

ATE PI CTC booth

National CTC Executive Director Ann Beheler was part of a morning panel (and subsequent breakout discussion section) entitled “Building & Deepening Employer Engagement” that attracted about one hundred people to the Ambassador Room.  As you might guess, the CTC portion of the panel discussed the benefits of the Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) model that energizes a traditional “advisory group” by asking the business experts to help co-lead a technical program through frequent meetings and an annual job skills validation voting process. (see picture below)


From left to right: Dr. Ann Beheler, Tu Huynh (Comerica), Glenn Wintrich (RDM Innovation Training) and Hope Cotner (CORD)

The BILT model makes sure a program’s curriculum closely aligns with the skills the workforce needs in entry-level hires.  Joining Ann on the panel were two of the CTC’s national BILT members – Glenn Wintrich from RDM Innovation Training and Tu Huynh from Comerica Bank.

ATE PI BILT panel room

“Building & Deepening Employer Engagement” attracted about 100 people to the Ambassador RM.

The ATE PI conference also sponsored somestudent participation, allowing the National CTC to bring along to Washington DC Ean Towne (pictured below).  Ean – a recent retiree from the U.S. Army – enjoyed a full slate of student-focused meetings and activities at the conference, including a poster session during one of the lunches.  Ean’s poster explored security concepts and strategies to keep a network safe from attack.  You can learn more about Ean via his recent video interview.


IMG_0109 Booth

From left to right: Aaron Burciaga, Dr. Ann Beheler, Mark Dempsey, Dr. Don Weasenforth (Vice President/Provost Collin College) and Glenn Wintrich.

Since it was the 25th anniversary conference, select alumni from ATE-sponsored programs were invited back for special recognition – and a fancy award plaque.  The National CTC was thrilled to be able to invite Mary Patton, the very first graduate of Collin College’s IT networking convergence program.  Mary delighted in telling the students at the conference that she’s enjoying a high-paying, fascinating networking job with only an AA degree.


From left to right, Dr. Ann Beheler and Mary Patton.

The PIs conference also served as the first public platform for the new “IT Skill Standards 2020 and Beyond” (ITSS 2020) ATE grant project.  While a separate project from the National CTC grant, the ITSS 2020 project shares many of the same staffers and is similarly funded by the ATE.

The plan is to update national IT skill standards across 8-10 essential job clusters using expert, forward-looking business and industry experts.  These standards haven’t been updated since 2003.  To learn more, take a look at this press release or this project summary.  Here’s a look at Ann Beheler discussing the IT Skills Standard project at the exhibit hall booth.


From Left to right: Aaron Burciaga, Glenn Wintrich, Dr. Don Weasenforth and Dr. Ann Beheler

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