Stephanie Rispa
National Science Foundation ATE Program Invests $7.3M into National Center for Autonomous Technologies at Northland

National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) atNorthland Community & Technical College receives consecutive awardto lead the education of the Nation’s Autonomous Systems Skilled Technical Workforce (STW).

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn, June 20, 2024 — Northland Community & Technical College has been awarded a $7.3 million, five-year, National Center Renewal (DUE 2400926), from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, led by Lead Program Director, Dr. Celeste Carter.

In 2019, a $6.9 million NSF investment helped establish the National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) at the Northland Aerospace Site. NCAT is funded under the Emerging Advanced Technological Area; a specialized National Center category. NCAT brings together long-standing NSF investments such as: Marine Technology Society (MTS/MATE), Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT), GeoTech Center and Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence (MNTCOE).  This team focuses on the autonomous technologies skilled technical workforce across aviation, automotive, and marine industries (air, land and sea).

“Autonomous technologies are rapidly transforming the advancement of the transportation system and the way we all live and work.  NCAT provides significant investments into the technical education required to sustain the United States as a leader in autonomous technologies,” said Jonathan Beck, NCAT Executive Director, Principal Investigator, and Military Veteran.

NCAT is defining future autonomous technician skill requirements, inspiring the future tech talent pipeline, and engaging with industry partners. NCAT also serves as a centralized hub for the autonomous technologies community.  The Federal Aviation Administration Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS CTI) has designated NCAT as the repository for content and curriculum.  Currently, UAS CTI is comprised of 141 colleges and universities throughout the nation. NCAT helps power the community through webinars and hosts the FAA Drone Safety Day website.  NCAT is also partnering with the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) on workforce research and will be a training provider for the Trusted Operator Program.

This latest multi-million-dollar grant allows NCAT to continue leading the national effort defining the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) of autonomous vehicle technicians. The effort generated the “Recommended CORE KSA Standards for Autonomous Systems Technicians” (2023), which defines the common competencies for technicians across air, land, and sea. By using this cross-domain core standard, educational institutions can properly prepare students for multiple career pathways.

“Northland’s aviation maintenance technology programs — including uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) — is why we are recognized as a national leader in this emerging technology sector,” said Dr. Sandy Kiddoo, President of Northland. “With the expansive growth of autonomous technology across many diverse industries, including Grand Sky and Grand Farm, we are delighted to receive another five-year NSF grant to continue our research and further define the skills needed.”

More about Partners for the National Center for Autonomous Technologies:

The Marine Technology Society (MTS) promotes awareness, understanding, and the advancement and application of marine technology. Incorporated in 1963, the international society brings together businesses, institutions, professionals, academics, and students who are ocean engineers, technologists, policy makers, and educators.

The Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT): As a regional center with national impact on advanced automotive technology, CAAT partners with educational institutions and industry to drive the skills needed for the next generation of automotive technicians, engineering technologists, and designers.

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence (MNTCOE) drives workforce innovation through education and industry collaboration – and provides thought leadership on workforce development in the transportation industry.

The National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence (GeoTech Center) is a collaborative effort between two-year colleges, universities, and industry to expand a well-qualified geospatial technology workforce. The Center has served as the national, unifying voice and support system for two-year colleges and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as a leader in supporting geospatial technology education.

This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (DUE 2400926). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

June 20, 2024
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