Icon for: Shawn Utley


Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Linda Christopher

    Linda Christopher

    Dean's Appointment - NSF PI
    March 20, 2017 | 12:29 p.m.

    Hello Georgia STEPs!

    Your program is very impressive! I am so excited to see the STEM pipeline working in Georgia. Can you elaborate on the summer camps for high school students and the summer workshops that the high school teachers and Community College faculty will attend?  This sounds like a great opportunity to build collaborative relationships and college readiness.  Also, what is the plan for measurement of your overall program?

  • Icon for: Shawn Utley

    Shawn Utley

    Lead Presenter
    March 21, 2017 | 03:36 p.m.

    Hi Linda,

    As part of our NSF Includes Grant and our Collective Impact approach, GA STEPS is working to develop a middle skill STEM pipeline from high school to college/career.  The summer STEM camp and summer professional learning are activities we initially proposed to support our project research. The first activity to be held is a summer STEM Learning Institute developed for high school teachers and college faculty from our 5 college partnerships to attend during the summer of 2017. We will recruit instructors from the 5 colleges that teach in areas that are related to their institutions STEM courses.  Some examples of the areas we will be recruiting teachers/instructors from are Industrial Systems Technology, Electrical Systems Technology, Mechatronics Specialist, Commercial Wiring and so on. Any other instructor that teaches classes related to STEM at these 5 technical colleges are invited to attend.  Wiregrass Georgia Technical College placed a $100 a day stipend in our budget for 4 days of training to help instructors and teachers to better be prepared to attend the training.  Wiregrass will also provide a 3D printer to each college to allow for cross-site activities with instructors and students.  Our hope is that the summer training for instructors will increase the effectiveness of STEM teaching strategies used across colleges which will eventually lead to broadened STEM participation by underrepresented students.

    Wiregrass Georgia Technical College will hold a summer STEM camp for students during the second summer, 2018. The summer STEM camp will increase opportunities for our underrepresented high school and college students through hands on STEM learning experiences and exposure to STEM careers through the camp. During the summer STEM camp, these underrepresented students will have access to state of the art STEM equipment. The activities held at the camp for students will result in improved middle skills STEM education for underrepresented students.

    Our goal is to develop GA STEPS (Science, Technology, Engineering Partners for Success) to broaden participation of underrepresented students and institutions to support development of a diverse STEM  workforce.

    The external evaluator is responsible for the measurement of project outcomes.  Sharpe Solutions LLC is using a mixed methods approach – pre/post surveys of STEM attitudes, knowledge and skills; focus groups with teachers and students; and qualitative evaluation of the STEPS structure and function.


  • Icon for: Kevin Brown

    Kevin Brown

    Senior Research Scientist
    March 20, 2017 | 03:12 p.m.

    Compelling video and equally compelling program that integrates industry across the STEM pipeline so that rural schools are capable of teaching the skills that local employers need. I would be very interested in hearing more about the role of industry in developing high school or technical college curricula and providing professional development to teachers. Without naming names, what difficulties have you experienced in building and maintaining partnerships between educators and employers? How are you capturing data around such partnerships to see what works and what doesn’t?

  • Icon for: Shawn Utley

    Shawn Utley

    Lead Presenter
    March 21, 2017 | 02:09 p.m.

    Hi Kevin,

    One of the great things we have in place through the Technical College System of Georgia is the requirement that all programs have an industry advisory board. They meet two times a year at minimum to discuss what is current in industry, who new partners are, program specific curriculum and facilities/equipment needs. However, many of our programs meet monthly as we really value industry input in helping create curriculum that will meet industry standards. It is important to note our high school curriculum gets the same treatment as does our college curriculum due to our high school students being enrolled in college through our Move On When Ready program.

    I would also like to add that on a state wide level, programs meet at a minimum of 2 times a year through our IFCCs (Instructional Faculty Curriculum Committee). IFCCs are composed of a program representative from each of our 22 technical colleges plus a Vice President from Academic Affairs from 1 college. During IFCC meetings, we talk about state wide standards and what is current in industry.

    Difficulties are usually associated with us trying to keep up with industry standards as technology is changing so fast. However, through our credit programs, advisory boards, IFCC and Economic Development Departments which does on demand contract training, we believe we do an excellent job in partnering with industry.

    As far as capturing data, the state has a knowledge management system (KMS). Through this system, we track employment opportunities for students, job placement rates in occupational programs and student contact information. The Technical College System of Georgia has a state wide requirement that we track every technical college graduate.

    Thanks for the question in response to our Georgia STEPS program.

    Shawn Utley
  • Icon for: Rosann Tung

    Rosann Tung

    Director of Research and Policy
    March 21, 2017 | 08:47 p.m.

    Your graphic theory of action is very effective in capturing what GA STEPS is trying to do. The hands-on nature of the programming is clearly conveyed in the video. Thank you for your detailed written answers above. Being somewhat removed from this field, I had to Google "Middle-Skill" jobs. Does GA STEPS also prepare students to go on to STEM graduate degree programs if they desire? Given that this is a rural initiative, how do you handle challenges with regards to distance and transportation to and from colleges and other programming?

  • Icon for: Shawn Utley

    Shawn Utley

    Lead Presenter
    March 22, 2017 | 10:22 a.m.

    Hi Rosann,

    Yes, we offer 27 degree level core classes that transfer to any college or university in Georgia and several other states as well. We also have our AAS Engineering Degree that is transferable to several four year institutions (Georgia Southern University & Kennesaw State University).

    As far as transportation issues, each school system in Georgia can apply for a transportation grant, which all of ours do, so while in high school transportation is not an issue. Also, we have four campuses conveniently located throughout our service area so we are very accessible to all of our students.

    Thank you for your question!

  • Icon for: Rosann Tung

    Rosann Tung

    Director of Research and Policy
    March 26, 2017 | 11:33 a.m.


    Great to know more about all the options available to GA STEPS students for pursuing courses and degrees in the region. And about accessibility for students, which has been a problem in other rural initiatives that I have studied.

    Best of luck with GA STEPS and I look forward to following your progress.


  • Icon for: Suzanne Barbour

    Suzanne Barbour

    March 23, 2017 | 05:21 p.m.

    Shawn and Tina: Your program is very exciting. I wonder if there is potential to expand your alliance to include UGA? I'm thinking especially about UGA Tifton, where there are faculty working in agricultural engineering. Best, Suzanne

  • Icon for: Shawn Utley

    Shawn Utley

    Lead Presenter
    March 24, 2017 | 08:59 a.m.

    Hi Suzanne,

    Yes, there is potential to expand through articulations and credit transfer. Currently, we have them through Georgia Southern University and Kennesaw State University. There is also the possibility for cross training using UGA engineers to provide professional development for Wiregrass faculty and for Wiregrass providing professional development for UGA faculty.

    Thank you!

  • Khurram Hassan

    March 24, 2017 | 10:35 p.m.

    Shawn and Tina:  So excited about your critical work in south Georgia.  I am curious how you might be using distance learning tools/resources to reach potential students.  Since distance becomes a real challenge in rural communities, would students have access to adequate computers and internet to participate in distance learning courses?  Could government and industry partners help improve access to such resources for students?  Once again, great work.  Much success!

  • Icon for: Shawn Utley

    Shawn Utley

    Lead Presenter
    March 27, 2017 | 11:03 a.m.

    Hi Khurram,

    We received a telecommunications grant a few years ago and all of our high schools and all of our college campuses have Tanburg systems. We can push out any of our classes to any of our high schools via Tanburg. 

    We have 100 percent of degree level core available online and many of our occupational classes are online as well.

    Industry has been very good at donating to our foundations and supporting college initiatives over the years.

    Thanks for your question!


  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.