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SCATE Center and Mentor-Connect Recieve ATE Grant

The South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SCATE) Center at Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) has received a $4,796,313, five-year National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) grant award to expand its Mentor-Connect program.

“Faculty at two year colleges from across the country are generating some exciting, new ideas, particularly in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering,” Managing Director of the SCATE Center and Co-Principal Investigator for the Mentor Connect project Rick Roberts said, “This award to Florence-Darlington Technical College will go a long way toward supporting them to continue and complete their important work to keep students at the forefront of innovation and technology.”

The NSF ATE grant was developed to strengthen community and technical colleges across the nation by providing guidance on NSF ATE grant funding opportunities, mentoring to develop competitive grant proposals, faculty leadership development, real-time technical assistance, an online searchable database of NSF ATE-specific resources, and structured guidance for new grantees.

This award will enable an expansion of Mentor-Connect, a regenerative mentoring system for leadership development and knowledge transfer, that was created in 2012 to further increase the impact of the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program. Mentor Connect projects broaden the geographic diversity of prospective ATE grantee colleges by helping educators from two-year colleges prepare competitive proposals to the NSF ATE program. ATE focuses on improving science and engineering technician education, and Mentor-Connect’s cohort mentoring program is available to faculty from institutions that are new to ATE and individual faculty members who have not previously had ATE grants.

“We look forward to continuing to provide support and resources to faculty, grant professionals and administrators,” Mentor-Connect Project Manager and Co-Principal Investigator Emery DeWitt said. “I love that Mentor-Connect is here to increase faculty enthusiasm and faculty who are dedicated to their students and their successes within their college community. We instill in the participants that Mentor-Connect is a wonderful investment for their students and institutions. Our Mentor-Connect family is large and proud!”

Mentor-Connect is a faculty development project that guides and empowers educators to obtain critical external funding for their academic workforce development programs in advanced technologies that drive the American economy. The project also provides effective collaboration among secondary schools, community colleges, universities and encourages synergy in advancing STEM education and workforce development.

Mentor-Connect Principal Investigator Elaine Craft said two-year colleges have traditionally considered National Science Foundation funding to be beyond their reach.

“By preparing two-year college STEM faculty, grant professionals, and administrators for NSF funding success, Mentor-Connect is changing this perception by successfully connecting these colleges to an excellent source of funding,” she said. “Two-year college personnel who work with Mentor-Connect learn essential strategies for preparing their first ATE grant proposal and how to position the college to successfully apply for additional NSF awards thereafter.”

Over the past decade, the Mentor-Connect projects at FDTC have made significant progress toward its long-term goal of broadening geographic and demographic participation in the NSF ATE program. To date, Mentor-Connect has supported and assisted 210 colleges, 383 ATE faculty and 221 Grant Writers and Administrators nationwide. The greater than 70% ten-year average funding success rate for Mentor-Connect participants far exceeds the 25% average rate for all institutions that apply for NSF funding.

About Florence-Darlington Technical College

Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) has provided affordable technical education to many thousands of Pee Dee-area students since 1963. FDTC currently enrolls more than 3,000 curriculum students and about 3,500 noncredit students annually, through the college’s Corporate and Workforce Development division, located at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT). For more information, visit

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