I have been an ATE evaluator for 6.5 years and an ATE PI for 3.5 years. One of the ways an evaluator can benefit an ATE project is by facilitating connections with similar or related projects, or with other organizations that can serve as resources and offer ideas about best practices and lessons learned. Here are some strategies for finding and fostering those connections:

  1. Don’t assume ATE projects at the same institution are aware of each other. Most of us work in silos, and at larger community colleges it is difficult for faculty to know all of the grants underway at their institutions. If you are evaluating multiple ATE projects at one school, it may be possible to help faculty from different departments connect and share insights that provide a mutual benefit to both projects.
  2. Make connections, but don’t get “in the weeds.” It is important that the project team be able to build relationships on their own, since those relationships will hopefully outlive the ATE project. Once you have provided the initial introduction or the contact information needed to get the parties connected, there is no need to remain on email communications or get into the weeds of the conversation.
  3. Learn more about the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network and your local MEP. I am fortunate to work for an MEP, an organization that helps small and medium-sized manufacturers survive and thrive. My position provides me with many connections to local manufacturers, as well as to a team of colleagues who interact with manufacturers on a daily basis. For an ATE project, a connection to such an organization could make it easy to establish win-win relationships with MEP industry clients. MEP clients can provide assistance with curriculum development or job task analysis, and community colleges can offer beneficial connections to program graduates.
  4. Familiarize yourself with atecentral.net and the ATE Impacts book. As an ATE evaluator, it is always good to know about other ATE projects similar to the one you are evaluating. The website net and the ATE Impacts book, which is published every other year, are amazing resources for learning about past and current ATE projects across the country. Lesson plans, videos, event listings, blogs, and other resources are just a click away, and your awareness of them can facilitate valuable connections for your ATE project team.

About the Authors

Evelyn Brown

Evelyn Brown box with arrow

Director, Extension Research and Development NC State Industry Expansion Solutions

Evelyn Brown leads the research and development efforts for NC State Industry Expansion Solutions (IES). She works to develop relationships with faculty whose research can be applied to solve problems for North Carolina businesses. Evelyn is part of the evaluation services team at Industry Expansion Solutions, which provides formative and summative assessments for statewide projects and grant-funded projects. She comes to Industry Expansion Solutions after 18 years in academia and has a B.S. in mathematics, an M.S. in operations research, and a Ph.D. in systems engineering. She has also served as an ABET evaluator since 2011.

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