Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) has been the host institution for the MATE Center since the Center’s inception in 1997. MPC is one of 107 campuses that comprise California's community college system. It is a comprehensive community college that responds to the educational, cultural, and recreational needs of coastal Monterey County. The average age of the more than 10,000 full- and part-time students is 38, reflecting genuine community-wide participation.
MPC offers academic programs whose courses parallel those offered during the first two years at the University of California and California State University. The majority of students in these programs will eventually transfer to a baccalaureate-granting institution.
Occupational programs offer students basic and technical curricula to gain the skills and knowledge required for employment and advancement in a variety of occupations available in the local economy. In addition, the college offers courses to develop the basic skills in language, math, and critical thinking that are needed for successful completion of college-level work, as well as adult education at senior centers and courses with numerous agencies and firms in the community.
"MPC is one of 107 campuses that comprise California's community college system"
Development of the Partnership
In 1997 the National Science Foundation awarded MPC a six-year, $5 million grant for the development of a national center for advanced marine technology education – the MATE Center – and a partnership was born. At the time, MPC was not actively involved in education related to marine technology.
Partnership with the MATE Center changed that. Beginning with a meeting of regional businesses and industry councils in November 1998, the Center reached out to local marine industries to determine their need for technical workers and identify the skills they felt should be part of a technical education and training program. The end result was the Marine Science and Technology A.S. Degree and Certificate Program at MPC.
The program was approved by the California State Chancellor’s Office in the spring of 1999. Two courses, Careers in Marine Science and Technology and Research Diving and Safety, developed by Center staff were offered as part of the “MATE” program during the fall 1999 semester.
Marine Science and Technology Regional Network
During MATE’s second year at MPC, the college began to recognize the need for certain hands-on, industrial-type courses, such as machining and hydraulics, that could provide skills essential for some areas of marine technology. Hartnell College in nearby Salinas offers these types of courses through its industrial and mechanical technology programs, and the two colleges realized that making complementary courses available to their joint student population would strengthen both institutions.
Discussions with Hartnell, as well as with Cabrillo College in Aptos, California State University Monterey Bay in Seaside, and the University California Santa Cruz, are working towards an agreement that will allow students to take courses interchangeably among these campuses. The ultimate goal is to create a marine science and technology regional network that will enable a seamless educational exchange among schools in the Monterey Bay area.
Submersible Technology: A Common Theme
Ten MATE-designed courses are currently listed as part of the degree and certificate program. These include Introduction to GPS; GIS and Cartography; Practical Marine Operations and Safety; Introduction to Environmental Regulations; and Research Diving and Safety. In recognition of the importance of hands-on learning in technical education, the MATE Center Technical Internship Program is also a required component of the curriculum; by registering for cooperative education, students receive academic credit for their workplace experiences.
Introduction to Submersible Technology, first taught during the spring 2000 semester by Frank Barrows, Director of MPC’s Automotive Technology Program, focuses on the construction of functional, remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) from readily-available materials and the use of these vehicles to accomplish underwater tasks. Submersible technology (with a focus on ROVs) has also become the basis of MATE Center Summer Institutes for Faculty Development and of a national competition for high school and community college students being planned by the Center and the Marine Technology Society’s ROV Committee. (See related articles, p. 1 and p. 5).
"New energy is being put into MPC’s engineering program, including instructors from industry and a focus on robotics"
The Center will update and refine its program by continuing to incorporate information and feedback it receives from local marine industries and others. For example, several of the college’s academic advisors have pointed out that the MATE program could be an excellent basis for students planning a career in engineering or in marine research, if supplemented by course(s) in mathematics and engineering.
New energy is being put into MPC’s engineering program, including instructors from industry and a focus on robotics – which ties in well with the “underwater robotics” being taught in the Submersible Technology course. In continuing to identify commonalities among curricula, the college may find that the Center has strengthened its other programs as well.
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