Monday, August 4, 2008

A Great 2008 Summer Conference

Last week, doing something a little different than we’ve done in the past, the National Center for Telecommunications Technologies (NCTT, focusing on information and communications technologies) collaborated with sister NSF Advanced Technology Education Centers of Excellence Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (MATEC, focusing on semi-conductor, automated manufacturing and electronics) and OP-TEC (focusing on optics and photonics) to sponsor the SAME-TEC conference in Austin, Texas. Additional sponsors included Austin Community College, AT&T, Intel, National Instruments, MATEC Networks, the National Science Foundation, the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME), SEMI, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the Texas Business & Education Coalition (TBEC), Texas Instruments, and the Texas State Technical Colleges (TSTC).

SAME-TEC has a long history, starting in 1994 with the vision of David Hata at Portland Community College and continuing to grow and evolve under the leadership and direction of Mike Lesiecki and his team at MATEC.

Last year, while attending SAME-TEC 2007, Dan Hull proposed our three centers collaborate in the 2008 conference and we jumped at the opportunity. The results were greater than I certainly expected. Last week each center focused on it’s own high tech pieces and over 350 attendees had the opportunity to “mix it up” and go to sessions in other disciplines. As the SAME-TEC website notes ~ faculty connected with each other to share practices, knowledge, and new approaches to help students succeed. Industry members connected with educators to ultimately help ensure students emerge into the workforce with the knowledge and skills desired by themselves and employers. Exhibitors connected with existing and potential clients to help determine current and future needs.

Mike’s leadership, Dan’s experience and the work of each center’s team really pulled the conference together nicely. I feel incredibly fortunate to work with such talented and dedicated people.

Of course we had a few hiccups along the way and will learn from them. Next year will be even better – we’ll do it again in collaboration with a number of additional NSF Centers. Watch, and for details.

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