HI-TEC 2024, July 29 through Augut 1

2024 Award Winners

Awards will be presented at HI-TEC on Wednesday, July 31, Noon–1:00 p.m. at the Awards Luncheon.

Educator-of-the-Year Award
This award represents HI-TEC’s commitment to recognize community college faculty who make significant contributions to the education and training of today’s technology workforce. Nominees for the award must have had a demonstrated broader impact on technology education on both a local and national level. The Educator-of-the-Year Award recognizes a community college educator for outstanding contributions to advanced technological education.

Chander Arora, Los Angeles Mission College

Chander AroraDr. Chander Arora is a distinguished Biotech Program Director at Los Angeles Mission College, celebrated for her exceptional contributions to biotechnology education. With an illustrious track record and extensive expertise, Dr. Arora has left an indelible mark on her students and the bioscience industry. During the pandemic, her unparalleled dedication to active learning stood out as she single-handedly continued in-person training for her students. Notably, she has spearheaded the approval of a BS degree in biomanufacturing, marking a significant achievement for the community college in the Los Angeles Community College District.

As a recipient of the esteemed NSF ATE grant and a dedicated faculty liaison for the Amgen Biotech program, Dr. Arora stands as a subject matter expert, contributing significantly to the development of the assessment exam BioTC, pivotal to the bioscience industry and hosted by the esteemed organization Biocom California. She recently orchestrated an international conference for professionals as part of the Amgen Biotech Experience at LA Mission College.

Dr. Arora’s commitment to education and her students is underscored by numerous accolades, including the Best Educator Award, Distinguished Faculty Award, Women’s Mentorship Award, and recently awarded the 10th Annual Inspirational Women of the San Fernando Valley. These honors reflect her unwavering dedication to nurturing the next generation of biotech professionals.

Under her leadership, the Biotech program has been instrumental in launching successful careers for at least 95% of her students in esteemed organizations such as Grifols, Takeda, and Cedars-Sinai. In a notable achievement during the Spring 2022 session, eight of her students received on-the-spot job offers, a testament to her exceptional mentorship and program development. Over the last five years, she has placed over a hundred students from the current institution alone, with many returning for Peer-to-Peer training, creating a thriving ecosystem of training and success. Her success stories have been published in Community College Journal, where students state that Dr. Arora transformed their lives.

Industry Recognition Award
This award represents HI-TEC’s commitment to recognize industry colleagues who make significant contributions to the education and training of today’s technology workforce. Nominees for the award must have had a demonstrated broader impact on technology education on both a local and national level. The Industry Recognition Award recognizes key industry personnel for outstanding contributions to promote advanced technological education.

Robert Weinman, Director of Workforce Innovation, National Institute for Technology and Innovation (NIIT)

Robert Weinman

Robert Weinman has been a real leader in developing the talent pipeline for the emerging semiconductor workforce. His work has been partially supported by an ATE grant on which he is co-PI.

Robert works with colleges across the country, helping them align their programs through a detailed competency analysis to industry needs. Through the National Talent Hub, Robert has helped to automate the process of connecting community colleges and universities and their students to advanced manufacturers and tech-industry employers. The hub is intended to match industry jobs — and any evolving competencies involved — with education programs and outcomes in real time.

Robert says, “We can inform existing curriculum. We can tell you if there are gaps so you are getting a true educational development pathway.” Those seeking jobs can see how well their skills match a particular job and where the gaps are.

Robert has worked closely with the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) at Pasadena City College (California) as it enters into a new partnership that will provide students of colleges affiliated with MNT-EC (an NSF ATE center) free access to the National Talent Hub’s job portal.

Innovative Program Award
This award represents HI-TEC’s commitment to recognize innovation in advanced technology education. The Innovative Program Award is designed to recognize a team of advanced technology education professionals that has designed and implemented a significant innovation, which has led to a positive impact on student enrollment, retention, and/or advanced technological education.

Mentor-Connect’s PI 101 Initiative

PI-101PI 101 is a new initiative being implemented by the Mentor-Connect: Leadership Development and Outreach for ATE Forward project (NSF DUE #2227301). PI 101 provides mentoring for new PIs of NSF ATE projects. PI 101 instruction, technical assistance, and mentoring help new PIs, Co-PIs, and other project team members become familiar with NSF procedures and expectations such as compliance with reporting requirements, elements of project implementation, project management, and management of federal grant funds. PI 101 is designed to reduce the steep learning curve that most new PIs experience and makes implementing their projects less stressful. By providing instruction, just-in-time answers, and support, Mentor-Connect is encouraging and supporting PIs who will then be more likely to move up to larger ATE projects in the future.

PI 101 is addressing a documented tendency for first-time ATE grantees to be “one-and-done.” New, inexperienced ATE PIs with little if any institutional expertise or support available are often overwhelmed with the responsibilities of implementing a federally funded project coupled with required grant management activities that are essential to meet NSF expectations. The ATE program encourages colleges to remain active as grantees by submitting multiple proposals over time to keep momentum and continued advancement of technician education at their institution and beyond. Prior to PI 101, a half-day Getting Started workshop offered at the annual ATE PI Conference was the only formal support being provided to new, often first-time, PIs. Now new grantees have PI 101 to support them as they gain the skills and knowledge to be productive and successful PIs.