Ten community colleges were selected on July 15 as the latest cohort to participate in an initiative that advances STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) technician education programs.
The selected colleges will lead innovative projects in biotechnology, biomanufacturing, virtual labs, engineering technology, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, geospatial technologies and cybersecurity.
Through the MentorLinks: Advancing Technological Education program, the colleges will be paired with experienced community college mentors with extensive experience in planning and implementing advanced technology programs. MentorLinks is led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
Mentors will work closely with their college teams on activities such as curriculum development or redesign, industry engagement, faculty development, student recruitment and retention, virtualization and internships and experiential learning experiences development for both faculty and students.
AACC has managed the small, yet transformational MentorLinks project since 2002, where assistance to 34 colleges has resulted in the creation of 103 new courses, 15 new associate degrees and 25 new certificates; the development of several industry partnerships and internship sites; STEM program enrollment increases ranging from 14% to 350%; and the leveraging of more than $3.5 million in additional grant funding The program is also aimed at offering opportunities for smaller and rural colleges that often do not have the resources to apply for grant funding and to build or strengthen their STEM programs. Forty-five percent of colleges receiving a MentorLinks award are from rural areas.
"This program has given a small rural community college the opportunity to see what other curricular development in the area of advanced technology is possible,” said Jim Roomsburg , dean of business; technical education at South Arkansas Community College .
The 10 selected mentee colleges for the 2014-2016 MentorLinks initiative are Harrisburg Area Community College (PA), Irvine Valley College (CA), Kapi'olani Community College (HI), Mohave Community College (AZ), Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (SC), Patrick Henry Community College (VA), Shoreline Community College (WA), Texas State Technical College Harlingen (TX), Tri-County Community College (SC), and Virginia Western Community College (VA).