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SCATE Center Awarded Over $4 Million in a Year


FLORENCE, S.C. (August 9, 2019) – The South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SCATE) Center housed in the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) at Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) has received $4,066,724 in National Science Foundation (NSF) grants over the past year. Grants awarded include grants funded in the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) and NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (S-STEM) Division of Undergraduate Education.

The SCATE Center, an NSF ATE Program initiative dating back to its establishment in 1996 offers resources that support a variety of programs in the engineering technology and other STEM fields. Additionally, the Center provides current and prospective students at FDTC with tuition scholarships, internships and career development assistance, and a loan-to-own high-quality laptop computer.  Students are given computers with access to internet, virtual reality capabilities, and various software along with equipment depending on his or her degree curriculum. 

Within the past year, the SCATE Center at Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) has been awarded three grants that have garnered more than $4 million to help support technician education across the region and country. The SCATE Center along with FDTC faculty have been heavily involved with writing three separate grants that aim to educate technicians for the high technology fields that drive the nation’s economy.

Rick Roberts, Managing Director of the SCATE Center said, “This support will maintain the great momentum [the Center has] gathered over the last several years to improve and expand educational programs for technicians to work in high-tech STEM fields that drive the U.S. economy. That said, we are looking forward to continuing to be a part of bridging the educational gap to help fill in-demand, high-paying skilled technical jobs across region and the country.”

Most recently, the SCATE Center was awarded a $989,113 grant that will begin its funding this October. The NSF S-STEM grant, Cyber Generation Tech Stars: Supporting Student Success in Computer Technology, Industrial Technology, and Engineering Technology will help the SCATE Center and FDTC contribute to the national need for more scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians. The four-year grant will carry out this task by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need. Specifically, the project will provide one-year scholarships to at least 120 low-income, academically talented students who are pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in computer technology, network systems management, industrial technology, and/or engineering technology at FDTC.

In June of 2018, the SCATE Center was awarded a $294,081 grant from the NSF. The NSF ATE grant, Collaborative Research - HSI ATE Hub - Diversifying the ATE Program with Hispanic Serving Institutions using Culturally Inclusive Mentoring and ATE Resources is a collaboration between FDTC’s Mentor-Connect project and Arizona State University’s Arizona Science Foundation project. The collaboration provides support to Hispanic Serving Institutions by informing community and technical colleges about funding opportunities in relevant STEM programs at NSF, mentoring institutional teams (faculty and administrators), and assisting institutional teams in developing project ideas and crafting proposals. These initiatives support community and technical colleges across the country in learning about funding opportunities in relevant STEM programs at the NSF. To date, these two programs have collectively served 32 HSIs in nine states.

“The value that the ATE program has brought to two-year colleges will be strengthened with a specific commitment to identify HSI two-year colleges whose STEM strategic plans developed through the KickStarter program align with the merits of NSF ATE,” said Science Foundation Director, Carolyn Van Ingen Dunn.  

Three months later in September 2018, the SCATE Center earned its largest grant, an NSF ATE grant, Mentor-Connect: Leadership Development and Outreach for ATE-3. The grant totaling,    $2,783,550 was awarded to help improve technician education and continued the successful Mentor-Connect and Mentor-Connect 2 projects at FDTC, in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Mentor-Connect offers one-on-one team mentoring, curated technical resources, and instruction to help two-year college faculty prepare competitive proposals to the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) program.  The project provides support for over 20 two-year colleges from all across the country annually. Colleges are eligible to participate in Mentor-Connect if the college has not received a grant from NSF in the past seven years. To date, Mentor-Connect has accepted and supported over 140 two-year community and technical colleges by providing in-person technical assistance workshops, travel support to and from national conferences, and online grant development resources. With the new grant funds, the Mentor-Connect project will be able to continue to increase engagement and competitive proposals from colleges and populations underrepresented in the NSF ATE program as well as support more teams than in previous years.

“The basic idea behind Mentor-Connect is to help navigate NSF’s proposal requirements for its ATE program,” said Emery DeWitt, Mentor-Connect Program Manager. “Each college is assigned a mentor to work with them one-on-one through developing the various proposal sections. This gives the faculty members the encouragement they need to submit a successful proposal. To date, Mentor-Connect has had a success rate of 73% with last year’s cohort reaching [the] highest, 88%.”

For more information on the SCATE Center, visit or contact Managing Director, Rick Roberts at or 843-676-8559.



SCATE, a well-established and widely connected NSF-funded initiative housed at Florence-Darlington Technical College. Its resources support the development of a highly skilled technician workforce in engineering, manufacturing, and industrial technologies via faculty development and mentoring, problem-based learning, research, evaluation, and student scholarships and internships. SCATE provides the nation’s only online service that proactively connects educators to relevant professional development. For more information see SCATE websites:, and


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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." NSF is vital because we support basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future. 

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