In December 2018, the project convened a national ATE Leadership Caucus comprised of ATE Center Directors, Industry Advisors and NSF Program Officers to identify challenges facing industry, the technical workforce, and technician educators as a result of rapidly changing technology. The participants frequently mentioned topics related to Data Knowledge and Analysis, Advanced Digital Literacy, and Business Knowledge and Processes as cross-cutting content that should be addressed across all technical discipline areas. In July 2019, the project again gathered stakeholders with a variety of expertise (e.g., advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, information technology, cybersecurity, etc.) to identify and prioritize specific technician knowledge and skills within those three larger topics. Subject matter experts then wrote professional and layperson definitions for the subtopics and developed real-world scenarios in which a technician might encounter each subtopic.
To address a widespread need for information on the subtopics, SMEs have again been engaged by the project to assist with instructional activity development related to each subtopic. Each short instructional object is designed to be easily dropped in to one class period within myriad STEM technician education disciplines. The aim is to infuse these new foundational knowledge and skills into all STEM technical programs. This development will continue well into Year 3 and will serve as one component of professional development.