Nepal, Cortez and Johnson awarded National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education grant

Image-of-Brimal-NepalDr. Bimal Nepal, Dr. Monica Cortez and Dr. Michael Johnson have been awarded a $409,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant for their collaborative research in providing an adaptive learning environment for high school and community college students who are interested in acquiring high value manufacturing skills. These skills encompass a superior knowledge in production, which drives the growth and success of the advancement of manufacturing as a whole.

Dr. Bimal Nepal associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University is the principal investigator on the proposal. Dr. Monica Cortez, former director of the Texas A&M Engineering Academies and Workforce Development Programs, and Dr. Michael Johnson, associate professor and program coordinator of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution Nepal are the co-principal investigators on the project. 

The ATE grant will provide students an avenue to meet the engineering workforce needs of Texas and the nation. The Dwight Look College of Engineering has developed a unique program, the Texas A&M Engineering Academies, which, in addition to the grant, will offer students an opportunity to pursue an engineering degree while co-enrolled at Texas A&M and a partnering community college. The ATE grant will further the Texas A&M Engineering Academies response to the anticipated growth in the engineering industry expected by 2022.

IMAGE OF HAND AT WORK MMET WELDING HVM SPARKSThe ATE grant program will provide an adaptive learning environment for students to attain the skills necessary to work in high value manufacturing to meet the needs of the oil and gas energy industry. Houston Community College’s (HCC) Petroleum Engineering Technology program and Manufacturing Engineering Technology program and Texas A&M’s Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution are working to create a sustainable certificate program in high value manufacturing. The certificate would offer multiple tracks for community college students and the curriculum would meet the critical workforce needs of a vital industry.

The certificate program will offer three options for students: enter the workforce after receiving their certificate; transition to earning their associate degree before entering the workforce; or transfer their HCC credits to a four-year degree program in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M. Additionally, the program will develop high value manufacturing modules for high school students aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards as part of a summer program for teachers. The Texas A&M principal investigator and co-principal investigators in collaboration with the faculty at HCC will develop the certificate program courses. 

 “The idea is to provide community college students with pathways to Texas A&M University if they do complete these courses through community college engagement,” Nepal said. “These programs will serve as an integral part of continuing to build our nation’s technical workforce. The project will seek to provide different populations of students with multiple entrance and exit points either to the Chevron Engineering Academies or to industry.”