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  1. Tracy Holbrook
  2. Program Director of Chemical Technology
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Cape Fear Community College
  1. Tim Vandenberg
  2. Video/Visual Marketing Coordinator
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Cape Fear Community College

Increasing Student Enrollment, Education, and Employment in Chemical Technology

NSF Awards: 1956274

2022 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12, Undergraduate

What is Chemical Technology?  At Cape Fear Community College, students are provided training on various laboratory techniques involving environmental, pharmaceutical, forensics, food/beverage, cosmetics, and forensics.  As a result of our current National Science Foundation ATE project, students are currently receiving work-based learning in the pharmaceutical industry through a paid internship experience.  Additionally, exposure to the field of Chemical Technology is provided to high school students and their teachers through hands-on academies and after-school activities designed specifically for each cohort.

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Discussion from the 2022 STEM For All Video Showcase (12 posts)
  • Icon for: Tracy Holbrook

    Tracy Holbrook

    Lead Presenter
    Program Director of Chemical Technology
    May 9, 2022 | 05:19 p.m.

    Hello Everyone!  

    Thank you for visiting and watching the video on "Increasing Student Enrollment, Education, and Employment in Chemical Technology".  Our mission focuses on increasing the awareness of a chemical technology (CT) program, showcasing the types of jobs that graduates are qualified for, supporting various laboratory industries, and helping improve the lives of students through the education and training they receive in our STEM program.  The project is currently funded by the National Science Foundation and includes the following activities: 

    1.  Paid internships to current Chemical Technology (CT) students at Cape Fear Community College.  The internship program is a blended learning experience with on- and off-campus activities led by representatives at Quality Chemical Laboratories located in Wilmington, NC.  The mission of the internship opportunity focuses on strengthening academic and industry relationships, aligning academic goals to industry needs, and how to improve the pipeline of qualified candidates into the pharmaceutical industry. 

    2.  A two-week professional development program, titled the C-TEaCH Academy, for local high school STEM teachers.  Throughout the summer experience, teachers visit the CT laboratory spaces and are trained on common techniques and analytical instrumentation found in a typical laboratory setting.  At the end of the experience, teachers have learned more about the pharmaceutical, environmental, forensics, food/beverage, cosmetics, and chemical processing industries.  Instrumentation training includes the use of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography (GC), mass spectroscopy (MS), ion chromatography (IC), total organic carbon (TOC), atomic absorption (AA), Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), ultra-violet/visible spectroscopy (UV-Vis), dissolution, and disintegration equipment.  Educators are also trained on various sample processing methods including titrations, Soxhlet and Kjeldahl.  How to implement these practices in a high school classroom setting is also shared with participants. 

    3.  An annual engagement event for high school students (C-TECH Academy) and learners of all ages (CT-Discovery).  During the summer semester, high school students are invited to enroll in a free one-week summer learning experience that focuses on Chemical Technology education and training.  Throughout this week, high school learners are provided training on common laboratory techniques, the basics of analytical equipment, and how to relate "real-life" to the laboratory sciences.  To continue this mission, the CT program hosts additional Saturday meetings throughout the calendar year, designed to introduce the field of Chemical Technology to learners of all ages or backgrounds.  Both of these events increase the overall awareness of the chemical technology field.  

    1.  What are the challenges (that you are finding) of getting students/public engaged in a STEM discipline? 

    2.  What outreach activities are the most powerful for a STEM discipline?  

    3.  What are some effective measures of attracting students, who might apprehensive of a STEM discipline, into a college program?   

  • Icon for: Karen Mutch-Jones

    Karen Mutch-Jones

    Facilitator
    Senior Researcher/Center Director
    May 11, 2022 | 11:51 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your video!  I was impressed by the level of preparation, including practical applications of theoretical knowledge, that students at Cape Fear CC receive in your program. I believe that establishing industry relationships and PD for teachers will make the program sustainable, even after your grant funding ends--I hope that turns out to be true!  A student in the video describes the instrumentation skill and knowledge that he and peers bring to labs/industry.  This made me curious about what types of student outcomes you are or hope to measure.  Also, I wondered if you are studying the longer-term influence of the C-TECH Academy/Discoveries programs--in additional to increased awareness, is there data that suggest some of these students are focusing on STEM in college?   

    Exciting work--thank you.

  • Icon for: Tracy Holbrook

    Tracy Holbrook

    Lead Presenter
    Program Director of Chemical Technology
    May 11, 2022 | 02:18 p.m.

    Hello Karen! 

    The continued networking with high school teachers has definitely continued after the PD experience.  Just last week, a high school teacher, who participated in the PD opportunity last year, visited our campus and brought two group of students (chemistry and biology).  They spent the entire day with us doing lab activities and learning more about the chemical technology program.  Hopefully, this trend will continue!

    We hope that students who are participating in the C-TECH and CT-Discovery meetings eventually enroll in our two-year program.  We tap into their knowledge and awareness of the CT program when they enroll/register.  We have discovered that the majority of students do not know anything about our program and these events provide an opportunity for us to introduce ourselves and showcase what our program has to offer.  However, many participants are high school sophomores and juniors and we will not see an impact of these activities until a couple of years from now.  Again, we survey these participants and more than half have stated that they have not completed a chemistry or other science course before joining the C-TECH or CT-Discovery meetings.  We hope that we are sparking an interest in STEM and possibly changing some minds about career and academic paths after their visit with us!    

  • Icon for: Karen Mutch-Jones

    Karen Mutch-Jones

    Facilitator
    Senior Researcher/Center Director
    May 15, 2022 | 10:27 a.m.

    Thank you for responding and providing more information about the project.  It is encouraging when educators continue to make contact with a project after they are no longer, officially, involved.  The example you shared of the high school teacher bringing groups to campus makes me wonder whether some of your high school teacher participants might become ambassadors who share their follow-up up activities/actions with fellow teachers from the PD. As a PI, I often suggest ways that participants might stay engaged in following years...but that doesn't spark as much interest as when we highlight what other teachers are doing and invite others (no pressure!) to do so, as well.  I thought the C-TECH program was amazing--any data you collect from those who continue on will be so helpful for the field.  Best wishes for this excellent work.

  • Icon for: Chris Atchison

    Chris Atchison

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 11, 2022 | 08:18 p.m.

    Hi Tracy, this practical experience is so necessary. Other than the internship opportunities, are you considering how other local/regional/national industries can be brought into support this work?  What about from an accessibility, diversity, equity, inclusion perspective?  Are students seeing themselves represented in the support personnel you have working with them?  How are the teachers being engaged to continue their own development and showing their own students what lies ahead for them if they are considering careers in the chemical fields?  

  • Icon for: Tracy Holbrook

    Tracy Holbrook

    Lead Presenter
    Program Director of Chemical Technology
    May 11, 2022 | 11:22 p.m.

    Hi Chris!  Your inquiry about other companies could not be asked at a better time!  As we learn, adapt, and create a model that works for us as well as the company, we are sharing these results with other potential employers in our area and our advisory board members.  Already, another local company has inquired about a possible internship position throughout our academic year.  The project would concern method development and students would mainly complete these projects while they are on campus, in our laboratory facilities, using equipment provided by industry.  In exchange, this equipment will also be available for our current CT students, faculty, and staff.  

    Teachers involved in the PD opportunity are provided tips, tricks, and ways to implement the learning activity in a high school laboratory environment.  For example, one of our procedures focuses on the USP-NF dissolution method of a general medication.  We train teachers on dissolution equipment, the purpose of USP-NF, and how to determine if a pill would pass those standards.  Many high schools cannot afford a dissolution system, so how do they implement something like this?  It's simple!  These concepts can easily be taught using a large 1000 mL beaker, a magnet, and a hot/stir plate.  High school students can easily maintain the temperature of a solution and drop a tablet into the beaker.  After the designated time, they pull an aliquot of sample and analyze it for the concentration.  Smaller equipment and glassware can be borrowed from our laboratory, and we are just a phone call away from these teachers.  The high school classroom now can introduce topics on dissolving, concentrations, molarity, and the missing pieces of government regulations and the USP-NF.  This provides a much broader context of the chemical field/industry. 

    Finally, the relationships that we have created with these teachers have continued since their enrollment in the C-TEaCH Academy.  Just this past week, a teacher from last year's cohort brought two groups of high school students to our campus.  We provided a tour of our lab facilities, explained the field and program of chemical technology, and aided students through hands-on lab activities involving thin layer chromatography and gel electrophoresis.  They spent the entire day with us.  We feel confident that these relationships will only continue to improve in the future!

     
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    Chris Atchison
  • Icon for: Chris Atchison

    Chris Atchison

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 12:53 p.m.

    Outstanding, keep it up!  A few examples of academia/industry partnerships for students with disabilities:  AAAS EntryPoint! and the USGS Step-UP program. May or may not be useful, but even if you just get one idea.... 

    Thanks, Tracy!

  • Icon for: Catherine Horn

    Catherine Horn

    Facilitator
    Moores Professor and Chair
    May 11, 2022 | 09:50 p.m.

    Tracy - thanks or this video and for the work you are doing. Echoing what others have already said, the intentional opportunities to connect theory to practice is a great gift for students, including in the ways that such experiences expand career opportunities. One of the folks in the video described this as "a continuum." How have you developed the industry partnerships that seem to be essential in your success? Are there particular preconditions that you think have been especially important in ensuring their success? Also, I'd love to know more about the funded internships and how you are working to make those kinds of opportunities sustainable. 

    Great work!

     

  • Icon for: Tracy Holbrook

    Tracy Holbrook

    Lead Presenter
    Program Director of Chemical Technology
    May 11, 2022 | 11:05 p.m.

    Hi Catherine!  We have a local pharmaceutical company (featured in the video) that was expanding their footprint and workforce.  We believed that this would be a prime opportunity to improve our relationship with local industry.  In the past, we have had to overcome the barriers and misconceptions surrounding AAS graduates with many STEM employers, as most have minimum requirements for a BS degree holder.  We knew that our AAS graduates could outperform BS graduates in the laboratory environment; we just had to prove it.  The internship was the first step in showcasing our graduates and their knowledge.  Having the company trainers work closely with our faculty, students, and laboratory facilities, helped them realize the full potential of what our program could provide their company.  We fully believe that this opportunity has laid the pathway for future graduates of our program for years to come!  Now our job is to replicate this process with other STEM laboratory-related employers.  

    We require that our interns are in their second year of studies and are willing to commit to two semesters of work-based learning.  We require each intern to devote a minimum of 160 hours, throughout the semester, toward company-related activities.  Additionally, a blend of on-campus and off-campus learning has been effective and encouraged.  

    Sustainability has been a topic of discussion, even from our early grant submission process.  Now that our students and graduates are becoming more well-known and understood, we are in negotiations to continue this paid internship after our award ends (we often say that this will allow the company to "headhunt" our graduates in the future).  Furthermore, our stronger relationship with this growing company has also led into the creation of another two-year degree in pharmaceutical manufacturing.    

  • Icon for: Catherine Horn

    Catherine Horn

    Facilitator
    Moores Professor and Chair
    May 12, 2022 | 08:21 a.m.

    Thanks, so much, for the detail and the important work. Particularly appreciate your negotiation efforts to work toward sustained paid internships. We are thinking a lot about how to do that in our different spaces too!

  • Icon for: Dennis Kleinman

    Dennis Kleinman

    May 13, 2022 | 03:40 p.m.

    This looks like a great program.  Giving students hands-on experience that translates directly to the kind of work they might be pursuing is potentially life-changing. The internship program also looks spot on.  Loved the way you used students to tell their stories about participating in the program.  Along that line, you might want to have a look at the Stem For All video for the project my team and I have been working on for the Department of Defense that introduces students to the field of BioFabrication as a possible career choice.  https://stemforall2022.videohall.com/presentations/2489.  To give students a real feel for what it is like to work in this sector, we created video profiles of recent college graduates who are working for actual BioFab startups.   You can view all of the videos here: Building a Strong Workforce Alliance for Biofabrication & Bioengineering through K-12 Education

  • Icon for: Tracy Holbrook

    Tracy Holbrook

    Lead Presenter
    Program Director of Chemical Technology
    May 14, 2022 | 04:34 p.m.

    Thank you for your comments and sharing these resources.  The Biofab looks like a wonderful prorgram and learning opportunity!  It's so interesting, I want to sign up!

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