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Update Career and Technical Education - Presidential Opportunity Agenda

Opportunity Nation is calling on the next president to work with Congress to advance policy initiatives that would expand and improve high-quality career and technical education for all students by:
  • Ensuring increased collaboration and coordination between secondary and postsecondary institutions
  • Ensuring increased collaboration between CTE and the private sector
  • Aligning CTE programs with regional and State workforce needs
  • Exposing students to career and work-based learning opportunities
  • Rewarding evidence-based practices with a focus on programs that can be scaled and replicated, and leverage more support from the private sector
National Academy Foundation (NAF), one of Opportunity Nation’s coalition members, knows the value of high-quality CTE in preparing students to succeed. NAF has developed an industry-focused curriculum as well as work-based learning experiences that focus on five high-growth fields: finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. More than 6,000 business people volunteer in classrooms, act as mentors and provide NAF students paid internships. Employers recognize the value of these experiences, as it is crucial for America’s corporations to invest in the future of our students and the future of their workforces.

Green Collar Zone

Green Collar Zone products are manufactured to transfer skills in the growing green economy. Green collar careers will be the engine of new job growth, with the added benefit that these careers cannot be outsourced. Green Collar Zone’s hands-on trainers in solar panels and wind turbine systems come complete with state of the art curriculum, tools and equipment.

Solar Energy Technologies

  • Learn the history of the solar power

  • Discover career opportunities in the alternative energy industry

  • Mount a solar panel anchor system to a roof

  • Wire solar panels to a solar controller

  • Connect storage batteries in a series circuit

  • Connect batteries to a power inverter

  • Wire power inverter to an electrical service panel

  • Calculate voltage of all devices in the circuit

  • Compare a grid tie and stand alone power system

Technology in Action

Economic Facts Everyone Should Know

The following set of facts are called the Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom. These basic laws of economics were developed by The Economic Foundation of New York. It might be called a guide for human's economic life. These ten rules show how simply the economic truth can be told.

Evaluate Cost

Standard practice has been to:



Survival as a manufacturing nation demands that we also:


Ioannis Miaoulis- NCTL STEM

We Are the TE in STEM

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Communication Simulation, Understanding and Implementation

Visualization and model building are skills that technology instructors have been providing their students for some time. Using visualization and the ability to replicate a model are skills that can be enhanced when students are introduced to communication simulation and the process of developing simulated representations of reality. In this article, the authors explain how to develop and design a communication simulation using a physical security analysis of a computer laboratory as the theme of the activity. Communication simulation from the authors’ viewpoint is the use of technology and visualization to allow the student to communicate by using a model

Computer developed simulations are new teaching tools that faculty are starting to use in their classrooms. In this paper, the authors look at one type of simulation, communication, which can be implemented into the classroom using a physical security analysis from a technology/visualization perspective. However, to disseminate this article to a broader audience and to be consistent with the understanding of the terminology used throughout the narrative several terms will be defined using Wikipedia as the resource. As Clark Aldrich states (2009, p. xxxii), “The lack of common terms is a huge problem, and it has substantially hindered the development of the simulation space. Sponsors, developers, and students have not been able to communicate intelligently.”
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Follow The Money

$21 Million for STEM Grants


In order to bolster the fast-growing fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the U.S. Department of Education will provide more than $21 million in grants to fund 478 fellowships at colleges across the country.

The awards are part of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) initiative, which provides graduate fellowship programs to students who can demonstrate exceptional academic skill and financial need. These new grants will assist 163 students who major in STEM subjects, including chemistry, physics, biological sciences and computer science.

Scott Brown


Leveraging Federal Funds to Support STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter to states, school districts, schools and education partners on how to maximize federal funds to support and enhance innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for all students.

The letter serves as a resource for decreasing the equity and opportunity gaps for historically underserved students in STEM and gives examples of how federal funds—through formula grant programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act—can support efforts to improve instruction and student outcomes in STEM fields.

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The Art of the Future

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The Art of the Future

These are stories of high school students and teachers (and public and private partners acting through networks) to do “real world” scientific research and development (R&D) and engineering design. This is the new face of advanced technological education in America’s high schools and community colleges. Job profiles are provided by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education initiative.


Career and Technical Education in High School - A Fordham University Study

Fordham’s latest study, by the University of Connecticut's Shaun M. Dougherty, uses data from Arkansas to explore whether students benefit from CTE coursework—and, more specifically, from focused sequences of CTE courses aligned to certain industries. The study also describes the current landscape, including which students are taking CTE courses, how many courses they’re taking, and which ones.

Key findings include: 

  • Students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages.
  • CTE is not a path away from college: Students taking more CTE classes are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers.
  • Students who focus their CTE coursework are more likely to graduate high school by twenty-one percentage points compared to otherwise similar students (and they see a positive impact on other outcomes as well).
  • CTE provides the greatest boost to the kids who need it most—boys, and students from low-income families.

Due to many decades of neglect and stigma against old-school “vo-tech,” high-quality CTE is not a meaningful part of the high school experience of millions of American students. It’s time to change that.

Career and Technical Education in High School

Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the 21st Century

After decades of off-shoring and downsizing that have left blue collar workers obsolete, the United States is now on the verge of an industrial renaissance. We don't have a skilled labor pool to fill the positions that will be created, which are technically demanding and require specialized skills. A decades-long series of idealistic educational policies with the expressed goal of getting every student to go to college has left a generation of potential workers out of the system. Touted as a progressive, egalitarian institution providing opportunity even to those with the greatest need, the American secondary school system has deepened existing inequalities.

Reskilling America

How Do You Learn Best?

In today’s information-saturated environment, learning is no longer limited to the classroom. With web-based media like television, video games, podcasts, and e-books always at our fingertips, we are learning constantly. Often, we don’t even realize it! However, when faced with the idea of learning for professional development, such as learning how to use new software, often people feel quickly overwhelmed. In the minds of many people, learning “on purpose” is very different than the learning they do while consuming entertainment. Words like “boring”, “difficult” and “frustrating” come to mind. Why is this?


Why Choose a College Education over Technical Training? Why Not Both?

Today many adults find themselves excluded from the job market because of inadequate skills, education, and training. The U.S. labor market is increasingly demanding a more educated workforce. According to the National Commission on Adult Literary, adults must have some post-secondary education or occupational skills training to find and hold jobs that will pay family-sustaining wages in the 21st century. Of the 48 million job openings projected for the next five years, 63 percent will require further education past a high school diploma.

The American Council on Education Recommends Manufacturing Skills Courses for College Credit

The American Council on Education (ACE) recently concluded a review of Scientific Management Techniques Manufacturing Skills Training Program and Hands-On Skills Assessment Program.  ACE CREDIT® is recommending college credit for both programs.  ACE CREDIT® is recommending up to 21 college credit hours for Manufacturing Skills Curriculum and up to three credits each for three different skills assessment protocols (Credit for Prior Learning). The programs described are recognized as Best Practice productivity tools by many of the world’s most respected manufacturing organizations. These skill solutions have been taught in training programs of global Fortune 500 manufacturers for many years. These same proven programs are available for the formal education market.

Workforce Development Agency Connects to Community College to Deliver Segmented Education Program that Produces Jobs

Compelling evidence bore the need to train more Travel Agents. Who knew? Mary Ellen Solano, Senior Travel Director of Omega World Travel knew, and provided the research to support the vision. This unique “first time” offered program is located in Atlantic City New Jersey where unemployment is a chronic resultant of the decline of the casino industry. Yet, a “work ready” skilled customer oriented workforce exists within Atlantic County to learn how to work in the travel industry.

The success of The Travel Industry Sales and Technology program is the shared vision of Dr. Pete L. Mora, President of Atlantic Cape Community College, The Atlantic County Office of Workforce Development’s Executive Director, Rhonda Lowery, and Brownstone Groupe President, Ted Hansen, Ph.D. How did this come together? “Simply, the program design, combined with employer driven training outcomes, really speaks to how the new Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovative Opportunities Act is supposed to work.”  Brownstone’s Dr. Hansen explains, “Employment is urgent, therefore the training must be exactly work relevant, quick to credentials, with employers waiting.” 

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robofest mascot robofest



Robofest is an annual robotics festival and competition designed to promote and support STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) and Computer Science for students in grades 5 - 12 and college students. Robofest challenges teams of students to design, build, and program autonomous robots to compete in the following categories in two age divisions:

  • Game Competition - A team of students competes to accomplish robotics missions using fully autonomous robots. Especially Robofest game puts math skills to the test.
  • Exhibition - Each team has complete freedom to show off any creative computer programmed robotics R&D project.
  • Vision Centric Robot Challenge (Sr. high school and college students - Associate Event)
  • Bottle RoboSumo (aka RoboShove) (Jr and Sr - Associate Event)

Any robotics kits are allowed in the construction of robots. Robofest has multiple venues in the US and several other countries.

Cleaning up oil spills

Grade Level: 
High School
Environmental studies, Engineering
Provided by TryEngineering - http://www.tryengineering.org/
Lesson Synopsis 
The "Oil Spill Solution" lesson explores how environmental engineers might approach solving the problem of an oil spill. Students work in teams of "engineers" to develop a system to contain and then remove oil from a classroom "spill." Teams decide on which materials they will use and how they will isolate the oil from the water. They then execute their plan with everyday materials, evaluate their results, observe the results of other student "engineering" teams, and present findings to the class. 
Lesson Focus
Lesson focuses on how engineers use various techniques to provide speedy solutions to oil spills or other threats to natural water resources. Through this lesson, students work in teams to analyze an "oil spill" in the classroom, then design, build, and test a system to first contain, and then remove the oil from the water. Students select from everyday items to build their oil containment and clean-up systems, evaluate the effectiveness of their solution and those of other teams, and present their findings to the class.  
- Learn about environmental engineering.
- Learn about chemistry and chemical engineering.
- Learn about engineering design.
- Learn about planning and construction.
- Learn about teamwork and working in groups.


Tuition-Free Community College, The America's College Promise

Forty percent of college students are enrolled at one of America’s more than 1,100 community colleges, which offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations.  They are particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. For many students, they offer academic programs and an affordable route to a four-year college degree. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing, health information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

The America’s College Promise proposal would create a new partnership with states to help them waive tuition in high-quality programs for responsible students, while promoting key reforms to help more students complete at least two years of college. Restructuring the community college experience, coupled with free tuition, can lead to gains in student enrollment, persistence, and completion transfer, and employment. Specifically, here is what the initiative will mean: