Grant Details

Advanced Technological Education (ATE)

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    National Science Foundation (NSF)


    With an emphasis on two-year colleges, the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation's economy. The program involves partnerships between academic institutions, industry, and economic development agencies to promote improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels. The ATE program supports curriculum development; professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; career pathways to two-year colleges from secondary schools and from two-year colleges to four-year institutions; and other activities. Another goal is articulation between two-year and four-year programs for K-12 prospective STEM teachers that focus on technological education. The program invites research proposals that advance the knowledge base related to technician education.

    The ATE program supports proposals in the following major tracks:

    1. Small Grants for Institutions New to the ATE Program: This category seeks to increase the incentive and opportunity for community colleges that have little or no previous experience with the ATE program to undertake projects to improve science and engineering technician education programs or teacher preparation programs that focus on technological education. This small grants opportunity is designed to stimulate implementation, adaptation, and innovation in all areas supported by the ATE program and to broaden the base of community colleges participating in the program. Proposers are strongly encouraged to utilize resources developed by other ATE or other NSF awardees and to consult with people from these projects and centers. It is expected that some of the funded projects in this category will serve as a prototype or pilot for an idea that may be expanded in a future proposal for an ATE project. The ATE program is particularly interested in projects addressing issues in rural technician education.
    2. ATE Projects: ATE Projects focus on one or a few of the following activities:
      1. Program Development and Improvement: These projects should increase the relevance of technician education to modern practices and assure an increased number of students with an enhanced STEM theoretical understanding and technical skills and competencies entering the high performance workplace. Proposed activities should produce a coherent sequence of classes, laboratories, and work-based educational experiences that revitalize the learning environment, course content and technical experiences for students preparing to be science and engineering technicians. Employers must be involved, and the resulting program should constitute a model that could be disseminated broadly. The program should lead students to an appropriate associate degree or specific occupational competency or certification, provide business and industry and public sector agencies with a larger pool of skilled technicians, and support student recruitment, retention, and completion of programs. 
      2. Curriculum and Educational Materials Development: A project may also focus on curriculum and materials development with the intent of nationally disseminating the developed products. Proposed project activities should affect the learning environment, course content, and experience of instruction for students preparing to be science and engineering technicians and for their teachers. Projects develop new print, electronic, and multimedia materials, including simulations, scenarios, and web-based collections as well as laboratory experiments and manuals. It is expected that products will be developed with input from business, industry, and government, validated by experts from these organizations, field tested in diverse locations, and validated in terms of their effectiveness in meeting learning goals.
      3. Professional Development for Educators: The ATE program supports projects that provide current secondary school teachers and college faculty with opportunities for continued professional growth in areas that directly impact technician education. These projects should be designed to enhance the educators' disciplinary capabilities, teaching skills, and understanding of current technologies and practices, and employable skills. Activities typically include workshops, intensive seminars, industrial internships, or a combination of these. Such activities typically last from a few days to several weeks and are usually conducted in the summer, with follow-on activities conducted during the academic year. To effect long-term change, workshop participants should demonstrate institutional support. The program particularly encourages activities that involve secondary (grades 7 through 12) school teachers and two-year college faculty working together. Additionally, the program encourages activities that provide pedagogical skills to industry scientists and tradespeople who wish to teach. Evaluation should demonstrate use in the classrooms and sustainable changes in practice of participating faculty and teachers. Changes in student learning outcomes as well as students' perceptions of technical careers should be measured.
      4. Leadership Capacity Building for Faculty: The vitality and growth of the ATE community is closely linked to industry trends and needs as well as the acumen of the PIs and their institutions who educate technicians. As such, faculty must: 1) work with their institutional administration, 2) effectively manage both programs and project/center activities, 3) maintain industry connections that include local, statewide, and national economic development efforts, and 4) maintain and cultivate networks with other grantees across funding agencies.
      5. Teacher Preparation: The foundation for advanced technological education is grounded in strong mathematics, science, and technology education in K-12 schools. The preparation of future teachers who will facilitate student learning in mathematics and science and cultivate an interest in technological careers is an important component of the ATE program. ATE teacher preparation projects help prepare a future K-12 teaching workforce that is skilled in teaching science and mathematics, understands the technological workplace, and can prepare students to use a variety of approaches to solving real world technology related problems using design processes and principles. Teacher Preparation projects must involve both two-year and four-year institutions and should aim to increase the number, quality, and diversity of prospective K-12 science, mathematics, or technology teachers in pre-service or paraprofessional programs. These projects are expected to improve the prospective teachers' technological understanding; provide them with experiences to use in engaging students in real world technological problems; improve their understanding of the modern workplace, and strengthen their preparation in science and mathematics. These projects are expected to build on the extensive research literature on teacher preparation. Two-year IHEs have the unique advantage of having technology faculty, connected with the high-performance workplace, who can work with mathematics and science faculty in developing and teaching these programs.
      6. Business and Entrepreneurial Skills Development for Students: In addition to technical skills and disciplinary content, students entering the industry environment need skills that allow them to understand and work effectively in a business environment. Many companies have a global presence, and students need to understand that the global economy affects them as employees. Another sector of the industry is comprised of small start-up companies, and these have different attributes than large established firms. Students need to understand these attributes and differences to be effective employees. Employers often expect employees to possess knowledge, skills and competencies in a specific technical area and to demonstrate professional, industry related, and entrepreneurship acumen. Entrepreneurship skills can be developed in students in technician education programs by having them take selected business courses, by engaging students in problem-based learning using projects of interest to local industry, working with local economic investment organizations and by developing incubator programs that provide experiences for students to interact with entrepreneurs. Projects are encouraged that: 1) Educate traditional students and returning learners to develop and apply technical, professional, industry-related, and entrepreneurship knowledge, skills, and competencies within the context of a technician education program; 2) Incorporate global issues and international technological and business practices into technical programs; and 3) Introduce students to business plans, marketing strategies, networking and interviewing skills, and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs within the context of the technician education program.
      7. Consortia for Innovations in Technician Education: This track focuses on collaborations that strengthen partnerships between two-year IHEs that serve either a specific industry or where the convergence of technologies is changing the skills and competencies needed by the skilled technical workforce. These consortia are expected to be less complex than an ATE Center. Prospective PIs are expected to contact and work with relevant ATE Center(s) that support the disciplinary focus of the consortia as well as other ATE projects focused on the same technological area. These projects will be expected to focus on leveraging the expertise from several institutions and industry partners to accelerate both the development and dissemination of materials and best practices that are responsive to industry and regional economic development. Proposals are expected to detail the contributions of each institution/program to the consortia and provide an expected impact statement for the new consortia. Proposers are encouraged to investigate and develop innovative and creative approaches to program improvement and development in response to both industry and technician education needs. Possible outcomes may include: broad dissemination of project deliverables across the two-year IHE community; building networks across fields or institutions; faculty professional development activities; and leadership growth within and across appropriate STEM technological areas. As with all ATE proposals, strong industry partners are required. The management plan should provide detail on the roles of industry partners and others on the project. 
    3. Consortia for Innovations in Technician Education: This track focuses on collaborations that strengthen partnerships between two-year IHEs that serve either a specific industry or where the convergence of technologies is changing the skills and competencies needed by the skilled technical workforce. These consortia are expected to be less complex than an ATE Center. Prospective PIs are expected to contact and work with relevant ATE Center(s) that support the disciplinary focus of the consortia as well as other ATE projects focused on the same technological area. A section of the proposal must describe the collaboration with the Center(s) and other ATE projects, how the consortia will leverage Center and project resources, and how the goals and activities of the consortia are distinct from general goals and activities of the Center(s). These projects will be expected to focus on leveraging the expertise from several institutions and industry partners to accelerate both the development and dissemination of materials and best practices that are responsive to industry and regional economic development
    4. ATE Centers: The ATE program recognizes the need to develop an integrated approach to technician education that will define and disseminate the critical knowledge and skills required to support the advanced technology industries in the US. A center may be supported in the following areas: Advanced manufacturing technologies, Agricultural technologies, Autonomous technlogies Biotechnology, Energy technologies, Environmental technologies, Engineering technologies, Information technologies, Security technologies, Micro- and Nano-technologies, and an emerging advanced technology field, justified by the potential for career opportunities for two-year college graduates. Typically, centers are recognized as leaders in a particular field or technology based on significant prior efforts. A pathway to a center may begin with several successful projects and then progress to a center proposal. Proposals for a center must build upon prior efforts of both project personnel and others in the field. ATE centers are expected to provide models and leadership for collaborations in which two-year institutions work with four-year institutions, secondary schools, business, industry, economic development agencies, and government. Center proposals may specialize in the following categories:
      1. Center Planning Grants: The ATE program also offers planning grants for centers. The planning grant may be used to develop the Center infrastructure, conduct workforce needs surveys, and recruit partner institutions as well as industry and economic development agencies. Planning grants are optional.
      2. Center Proposal: Institutions contemplating a proposal for a Center are required to make early contact with one of the ATE Lead Program Directors to discuss their ideas. Typically, ATE Centers will be led by recognized leaders in a particular field or technology, based on significant prior efforts. Prior efforts include the successful completion of several projects that lead to the expertise and experience needed to lead an ATE Center. Center proposals must build upon prior efforts of both project personnel and others in the field. Proposals for Centers must clearly articulate a national vision of technological education in the specific field and describe a workable plan for achieving that vision during the period of NSF funding. Proposals must describe the expected impacts of the proposed ATE Center on industry, technician education programs at the national, regional, and local levels, and institutions. The evaluation plan for a Center should describe strategies for measuring impacts on institutions, faculty, students, and industry, and the Center's success in coordinating with ATE projects and other stakeholders.
      3. Resource Centers: The ATE program recognizes the importance of continuing to support existing centers such that they may continue to impact and contribute to the fields of technician education. After 10 years, ATE centers may submit a proposal that describes a plan to continue a subset of center practices along with new objectives that will support technological education in their respective field. These centers will be termed "Resource Centers" and they will be expected to: 
        1. Provide support and mentoring for prospective PIs that wish to start or improve educational programs in a particular field of technology; 
        2. Coordinate and support additional industry, business, and academic partnerships; 
        3. Promote technician careers and the public image in the field(s) on which the resource center is focused;
        4. Screen, validate, update, and broadly distribute exemplary materials, curricula, and pedagogical practices adapted or designed by ATE centers and projects and other appropriate sources including supporting the adaptation and implementation at new institutions of these materials. 
        5. Connect and support project PIs within their technological areas. 
    5. Applied Research in Technician Education: The goals of this track are: (a) to simulate and support research on technician education in established and emerging advanced technology fields in STEM, and (b) to build the partnership capacity between 2-year and 4-year institutions and universities to design and conduct research and development projects. Projects must clearly demonstrate that two-year IHEs have leadership roles. All projects must include a literature review that establishes the basis for the proposed study; a clear description of the alignment of research questions with methodologies.
      1. Conferences and Workshops: The ATE program supports a small number of conferences, workshops, and special projects that lead to a better understanding of issues in advanced technological education. It is expected that the conferences and workshops will be outcome based, and that the final report should contain a statement of the impacts of the event.

    History of Funding

    Up to $59.0 million was available for new and continuing awards in FY2018. ATE Centers maintain a website that provides information about resources that projects may wish to adapt: To search past awards through NSF please visit:

    Additional Information

    Whenever feasible, projects should utilize and innovatively build upon successful educational materials, courses, curricula, strategies, and methods that have been developed through other ATE grants, as well as other exemplary resources (including those not supported by NSF) that can be adapted to technological education.

    Proposers should contact the Principal Investigators (PIs) of previously funded projects and centers to explore the possibilities for adapting materials, evaluating materials, receiving guidance, or collaborating in other ways, such as conducting research projects which focus on the effectiveness of technician education.

    For questions about specific areas of technology or disciplines proposers are encouraged to contact a Program Officer from the list provided on the program's website. Disciplines of particular interest include:
    • Biotechnology/Biology
    • Biotechnology/Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Evaluation/Research
    • Geographic Information Systems/Geosciences
    • Information technology/Computer Science
    • Information technology/Cybersecurity
    • New to ATE track
    The ATE program encourages proposals from Minority Serving Institutions and other institutions that support the recruitment, retention, and completion of underrepresented students in technician education programs. The ATE program is particularly interested in projects addressing issues in rural technician education and projects that broaden the diversity of the entry-level technical workforce including strategies to recruit veterans into technician education programs. The ATE program does not support projects that focus on students who will become health, veterinary, or medical technicians. Activities may have either a national or a regional focus, but not a purely local one.

    NSF project funds may not be used for:
    • equipment or instrumentation that is not mainly for use in the project;
    • replacement equipment or instrumentation that does not significantly improve instructional capability;
    • teaching aids (e.g., films, slides, projectors, "drill and practice" software);
    • vehicles, trailers, laboratory furnishings, or general utility items such as office equipment (including word-processing equipment), benches, tables, desks, chairs, storage cases, and routine supplies;
    • maintenance equipment and maintenance or service contracts;
    • the modification, construction, or furnishing of laboratories or other buildings;
    • the installation of equipment or instrumentation (as distinct from the on-site assembly of multi-component instruments--which is an allowable charge).
    Please note, that if you are new to the ATE grant program, the NSF strongly encourages you to participate in the Mentor-Connect program. Mentor-Connect is a leadership development and outreach initiative for the ATE grant program. For additional information see: Application to Mentor-Connect takes place between July and October, annually. It is enouraged if your organization:
    • a community college that has not benefited from National Science Foundation grant funding in the past 7 years.
    • recognizes that it needs to develop or strengthen STEM technician education programs to meet industry needs.
    • wants assistance in preparing a competitive grant proposal for future ATE program submission.



  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants are universities, colleges, non-profit, non-academic organizations, for-profit organizations, state governments, local governments, and unaffiliated individuals. Two-year colleges and other associate degree-granting institutions are especially encouraged to submit proposals. All proposals are expected to include one or more two-year colleges in leadership roles.

    Deadline Details

    Applications are to be submitted by either October 6, 2022 or by October 5, 2023.

    Award Details

    A total of $75,000,000 is available for new and continuing awards in 2021. Awards will range from $70,000 to $7,500,000. The program expects to make 45-80 new awards. Anticipated number, size, and duration of awards include:

    • Small grants for institutions new to the ATE program: approximately 12-20 awards for up to $350,000 (each) typically spread over three years. It is expected that the budget request will match the scope of the project.
    • ATE Projects - Approximately 30-45 new awards, s for up to $650,000 and having a duration of up to three years. It is expected that the budget request will match the scope of the projectAdaptation and Implementation: approximately 10-15 awards each totaling $300,000 to $400,000 typically spread over two to three years.
    • Consortia for Innovations in Technician Education: approximately 1-5 new awards, ranging from $1,200,000 to $3,000,000 typically spread over 3-4 years. Consortia of two institutions have a maximum budget of $1,200,000. Consortia of three or more institutions have a maximum budget of $3,000,000.
    • Centers - Funding will be $7.5 million spread over five years, with the possibility of a competitive grant renewal for $7.5 million over an additional five years. It is expected that 1-3 awards may be made each year.
      • Resource centers: funding will be $1.65 million spread over three-years with the possibility of a competitive renewal for an additional three-years. It is expected that one to two awards may be made each year.
      • Planning Grants for Centers: one to two new awards for up to $70,000 (each) to develop well-formulated plans for a future center.
    • Applied Research on Technician Education: up to 5 new awards, ranging from $150,000 total for up to two years to $800,000 total for up to three years.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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