Archive for February, 2008
I often blog about green technology. Green tech is very important to the future of technical education. I find green tech to be very cool - so I blog about it.
At the risk of being politically VERY incorrect, I don’t blog about it because I am a big believer in man-made global warming. I realize that I will be excoriated for this in some quarters, so let me explain: I believe it is hubris for us to think we have climate predictions nailed for the next ten, thirty, fifty, or one hundred years. Climate models are very complex and weather is hard to predict for next week. That doesn’t mean that I think alternative energy is a bad idea. Getting away from fossil fuels is a good idea whether green house gases are dooming us or not.
To go along with this discussion, I see that there has recently been a dramatic decrease in global temperatures. Go here and here to see that they are already arguing about what it means. I repeat what I said before - Getting away from fossil fuels is a good idea whether green house gases are dooming us or not. If it turns out that global warming isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, I don’t want the push towards alternatives to stop!No comments
OK - I’m beginning to feel better and most of today I was able to spend at least somewhat upright. but not very active. The result is that I’veÂ seen proprietary school commercials all day long. ITT Tech alone runs television ads several times an hour on different stations. I can’t begin to imagine how much that must cost. Of course, we know who is paying for it.
Now, I’m not saying that I disbelieve the testimonials or think that proprietary schools are all bad. I do believe that they are not the best choice for almost everyone who attends. Better and much more cost effective technical education is available elsewhere. It is available in regionally accredited colleges that offer transferable credits. It is available without creating a huge debt burden for the student because those colleges are taxpayer supported.
Of course, technical colleges and community college technical programs can’t put commercials on TV several times an hour.Â If they did, they couldn’t afford to continue offering high-quality technical education at an affordable price.No comments
I’ve been out of commission all weekend. I’m too busy with the chills and sweats to post right now. Apparently the flu shot targeted the wrong strain.
Catch you later!No comments
An article from Business Week says Sallie Mae is essentially pulling out of the for-profit education loan business. This doesn’t affect accredited public colleges. My favorite part:
Don’t let those 30-second commercial spots offering a better life in 18 months fool you. The for-profit colleges making those promises may be easy to get into, but footing the bill for many of them just got a whole lot harder.
Please, please don’t be fooled! The marketing is great, but the education can’t match the message.No comments
The e-Learning Pundit links to my earlier post on the cost of technical education. The linking post covers the new laws requiring more oversight and reporting in the “for-profit” education sector in Tennessee. Read the post for some more thoughts on cost.
While you are there, look around. The rest of the site has some very interesting information about online programs, accreditation, and costs.No comments
Just a few miles west of Waco you will find the little town of McGregor. What you would not expect to find there is a rocket engine test and development facility. It is there, though, and belongs to SpaceX. Although engineers are very important to efforts like those in McGregor, they would be lost without technicians. A couple of our TSTC Waco employees visited the SpaceX facility recently. Along with Vanguard College Preparatory Academy, they toured the facility and got to see a static rocket test.
Their tour guide had and engineering degree as well as a business degree. She got her start at TSTC, where she participated in the Baylor University Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics & Engineering Research (CASPER) summer program. The CASPER lab is located on the TSTC Waco campus and is staffed by TSTC Laser Electro-optics faculty and students. SpaceX is also staffed with a number of TSTC Waco graduates.
Although we often hear about the need for engineers, we are very rarely reminded that several technicians are required for every engineer. In fact, when I checked here for SpaceX jobs at the McGregor site, there were 7 jobs for technicians and 2 for engineers. Technicians, as well as engineers, are required for the U.S. to continue as a technology and space exploration leader.
Here is a video of a static test firing at the SpaceX McGregor facility:
If I hadn’t been at CTAT in Austin, I would have seen something cool like this!No comments
My wife and I are in San Antonio. Our younger daughter made the All-State Two Year College Choir and they performed at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention. While waiting for the performance, we witnessed a â€˜reenactmentâ€™ of the handover of San Antonio (and the Alamo) to the state after secession in February of 1861. It was a little bit of history with which I was not familiar. The pictures below are from the ceremony. The man in the blue coat and wide-brimmed hat portrayed Governor Sam Houston (although he is dressed and proportioned a lot more like a younger Houston). He acted out a Houston speech in which he begged his fellow Texans to not secede. He quite accurately predicted the horrendous results. Of course, he wasnâ€™t much appreciated for it at the time.
Sam Houston making a speech condemning secession
The Alamo Rifles - then a state militia, now a group of reenactors
After the handover, federal troops march away with their colors
Does any of this have anything to do with CTE? The TMEA convention was big and energetic. It is in San Antonio every year. My wife used to go when she taught music.
Does CTE have anything as big, exciting, and high-profile? I know that I havenâ€™t seen it. If you know of something I’m missing, leave a comment.No comments
Ed Chipalowski points to a new plan to improve CTE in California. I have blogged about California CTE before (here, here, here, and here). Despite good words from the Governator’s office, the numbers seem to indicate no follow-through. There is a lot of unhappiness about this in posts over at the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) blog, Mpowered.
In last yearâ€™s state of the state, the Governor committed himself to expanding Career Technical Education in California schools, saying â€˜we must also continue to reinvigorate career tech education â€” I love career tech, love it.â€™
But this year, Career Technical Education is the jilted lover. The Governor didnâ€™t mention it once in this yearâ€™s state of the state â€” not a word.
I certainly hope Ed’s good news turns out to be true. I also hope it is one of those California trends that sweeps the nation. They owe us big time after spreading “Valley Girl” talk across the country.No comments
Collegiality is a word that one hears pretty often in higher education. After all, a college should certainly be collegial - right? Human nature being what it is, that doesn’t always happen. Yesterday, though, the Provost of Howard College in San Angelo, Texas spent thirty minutes of her valuable time helping us improve our dual credit program. (I have described my enthusiasm for dual credit before). LeAnne Byrd was very helpful. So was Joy Gay from the San Angelo Independent School District.
On the same day I received a call from Odessa College. An industrial partner had suggested that they come and look at our Instrumentation program (ICR - Instrumentation, Computerized Controls, and Robotics). I gladly agreed. We are justifiably proud of our program and have been repeatedly told that it is the best or one of the best in the nation. Wasn’t I worried about them stealing our program? Not really - and there is an important principle here…
Technical education is as much about economic development as finding jobs for students. The better we all do, the better our economies will perform. The taxpayers have funded this stuff. Let’s work together for their good! (which will also be good for us!)No comments
Hope on over to the ACTE site and read Ed Chipalowski on the elimination of Perkins from the President’s budget.
Did I mention that President Bush lands at Texas State Technical College Waco when he visits his ranch? Yes - that is my college - Air Force One parks just a few hundred yards from my office window. We have the closest runway that can handle a 747. I wonder if he has any idea what loss of Perkins funding would do to the school that owns the airport.
TSTC Police pose in front of Air Force One at TSTC Airport.
Click HERE to see two more pictures on the White House site.
Update: This seems like a good place for me to note again that these are my opinions - not those of Texas State Technical College. For more information, see my About TechEd Notes page.No comments
Here is an AP article on wind turbine technicians that mentions our sister college - TSTC West Texas - and their Wind Energy Technology. It also confirms that Texas is number one for wind power and that we need 800 new technicians each year just to keep up with the new construction.
But wind power officials see a much larger obstacle coming in the form of its own work force, a highly specialized group of technicians that combine working knowledge of mechanics, hydraulics, computers and meteorology with the willingness to climb 200 feet in the air in all kinds of weather.
That would be one more unmet desperate need for technicians. It’s almost like a pattern or something. Read the whole thing. It has great information on demand and pay.No comments
If you are in the technical education business these days, you can’t help noticing the need for welders. Here is a good article about a program that started a year ago at TSTC to train welders for Fluor. That program, along with a training program for Fluor’s competitors at Bechtel, continued with a new cohort last September. At the same time, we increased our regular welding program enrollment to 235 from around 160 the previous September (almost 100% full-time). Since then, we have spent $300,000 on infrastructure and another $100,000 on equipment to expand the program.
We have had some difficulty hiring qualified welding instructors. It is hard for education to compete when a good welder can earn $100,000 annually with bonuses, per diem, and overtime. Of course, that same demand is attracting students (and companies) and driving the need for more teachers. At the same time, demand encourages our students to leave before they have finished their degrees and certificates. Many of the best take a two-year degree that includes metallurgy, testing, and robotic welders. A lot of those also hang around for an advanced certificate in pipe welding. They become very skilled welders and attract the biggest companies with the top pay. With the money being paid at all levels, though, it is hard to convince a 20-year old to hang around and complete a degree that might help him advance and obtain more degrees later on. Non-traditional students often have families to support and can’t wait for a full degree before going to work.
That urgency has made the current grant-funded Flour and Bechtel short-term training even more important for us and our industrial partners. It has caused many of the community colleges to open welding programs or expand their small offerings. Still, with all of this activity, we have not made much of a dent in the demand.No comments
I noted earlier that Jim Griffith of Valero had some fun and interesting comments on college transfer. I have one other jewel to share. Jim suggested that CTE be considered “regular education” and academics be considered support. Why? He explained that academically-trained engineering graduates he hired couldn’t measure things with a ruler and didn’t know “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.” He said that made it hard for them to design anything useful.
Like Dilbert, it is funny because it is true!No comments
Is this the beginning of the end of the hard drive era on the laptop and even on the desktop? Gizmodo has two posts that chronicle both the big price drop and capacity rise for flash memory. Our curriculum guru at TSTC Waco has one of these ASUS eee PCs. It has solid state storage (SSD - Solid State Disk). Consequently, it is fast to boot but has limited capacity at only 4 GB. (I can remember when I traded my second-hand IBM PC AT with a 40 MB HD for an AMD 386 with a 420 MB Conner HD. I thought I had more capacity than I would ever need!)
Despite the dramatic rise in capacity and dropping cost of hard drives, they are still the weakest link in a computer because they are mechanical. That wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t also the data storage device. For a business, data is much more valuable and important than hardware. Even most home users would rather buy a new PC than lose their digital photos (and music).
It may start with hybrids that use solid state storage for the operating system, often-used programs, and working data that won’t fit in RAM. There will still be hard drives, but they will be for long-term storage only. With flash memory write speeds a little slow, the server-side we will see hard drives in multi-terabyte and even exabyte RAID configurations for a long time. The data warehouse storage need is too great and expanding (although this looks interesting).
With solid state disks offered as an option on the MacBook Air, the laptop revolution has begun. Can the desktop be far behind?
UPDATE: This looks interesting, too!No comments