Although Hartnell College (Salinas, California) is located twelve miles inland from Monterey Bay, two major marine research institutions – Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories – are in its district. Efforts underway at this campus, with support from the MATE Center, are bringing marine technology skills to traditionally non-marine technical programs, and vice versa.
The school’s efforts to blend marine- and non-marine technician training are providing an excellent demonstration of how many skills are transferable among different technician positions. They are also creating new possibilities for regional employers and students alike.
"The school’s efforts to blend marine- and non-marine technician training are providing an excellent demonstration of how many skills are transferable among different technician positions"
An Emphasis on Transferable Skills
One illustration of how MATE is finding a good fit with Hartnell’s non-marine technical programs is the development of a new industrial mechanic curriculum, of which “marine industrial technician” is one component. Tentatively slated to begin offering classes in the Fall 2001 semester, this curriculum will include courses such as principles of marine systems, marine materials and corrosion, marine electrical systems, and diesel engine systems.
“Many of the skills we’ll be teaching go across a number of careers,” explains John Totten, the MATE Principal Investigator at Hartnell. He emphasizes the curriculum’s focus on hands-on industrial technology.
Hartnell already offers a marine careers course, developed using MATE Center funds. “Several students with non-marine, yet technical backgrounds got jobs in the marine sector after taking just that one course,” Totten points out. “What better evidence of transferable skills among technician jobs could you ask for?”
The college has also made an effort to incorporate MATE-related topics into other courses, such as oceanography and environmental technology. Further, the MATE Center has funded the development of a coastal geology class, as well as the careers class.
"Several students with non-marine, yet technical backgrounds got jobs in the marine sector after taking just that one course"
A Marine Science and Technology Regional Educational Network
In addition to the Center’s efforts to incorporate marine technology curriculum into related technical programs at Hartnell, Totten has spearheaded a project – funded by the MATE Center – to create a marine science and technology regional educational network in the Monterey Bay area. The project involves gathering information from the region’s three community colleges (Hartnell; Cabrillo College, in Aptos; and Monterey Peninsula College, in Monterey) and two four-year universities (University of California Santa Cruz and California State University Monterey Bay, in Seaside) about their marine technology and related courses. The goals of the project are to identify potential courses for articulation among the different schools and to consider the possibility of students taking classes interchangeably among the campuses.
“We want to look at all the courses next to one another, to see where any holes might exist and develop articulation programs where appropriate,” Totten explains. He has already gathered all the course information and created a matrix; the next step is to bring together representatives from the various campuses to discuss articulation possibilities.
The MATE Center’s goal is to develop a seamless educational exchange among the schools, in which each campus could accept courses from its neighbors and students could take classes among the different campuses as it suited their needs. Then the students could graduate from the institution at which they’d done most of their course work.
An Opportunity to Share Intellectual Resources
The MATE Center has helped Hartnell College improve and expand its curriculum in a number of substantive ways. In addition to the specific courses and the articulation program that the Center has helped fund, Totten cites the Center’s efforts to define marine technician careers through the DACUM (Developing A CUrriculuM) process. (The procedure consists of a highly-structured workshop with technical professionals who, working with a trained facilitator, define the job functions and tasks associated with their specific marine occupation.) “That has been vital in helping us with course development,” Totten says. “Participation in the DACUM process has also given us leads to other institutions with which we have shared materials such as course outlines.”
“Being a MATE Center partner has meant a great sharing of intellectual resources,” Totten points out. “It has helped us to avoid reinventing the wheel in curriculum development and allowed us to learn a great deal from other institutions.”
Hartnell has also helped other MATE Center partners in their curriculum development efforts. For example, Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, Alaska relied in part on the expertise of both Totten and Keith Simmons, a Hartnell instructor, to help it create a new Introduction to Oil Spill Prevention and Response Internet-based course for its distance learning program. In another example, Hartnell instructor Ali Amercupan, who teaches hydraulics (typically without a marine focus), recently taught the hydraulics section of Monterey Peninsula College’s new Introduction to Submersible Technology course, developed by the MATE Center.
Hartnell College and the MATE Center are opening new doors for both students and employers. For students in traditionally non-marine technical education and training programs, the marine industry is now an entirely new area of potential employment. The area’s businesses have access to a wider range of potential technical employees. And it’s all from a very simple premise: taking advantage of transferable skills.
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