The U.S. water infrastructure includes more than 151,000 public drinking water treatment systems and more than 15,000 publicly-owned wastewater treatment systems. These numbers do not include the industrial water and wastewater systems. This massive infrastructure is confronting the increased role of water in national security issues, changes in national and regional regulatory compliance requirements, a retiring workforce, new technology, and the changing demands of industry. Thus, there is a need for realignment of academia, industry, business, and government to ensure the resilience of the U.S. water infrastructure. An important part of the water infrastructure labor force are water and wastewater technicians. Technician jobs are growing faster than average and include water operations technicians, wastewater treatment technicians, and water and wastewater system technicians and operators. These occupations have wages above the national median and, because the jobs are mandated by regulations, they cannot be outsourced. Water technology jobs survive economic downturn cycles because populations will always need clean drinking water and wastewater treatment to survive, and business and industry need clean water to produce goods and services. <br/><br/>The Advanced Technology Environmental Education Center (ATEEC) is an Advanced Technological Education Resource Center that supports and advances high school and community college environmental technology education through curriculum development, professional development, and program improvement. ATEEC will create Professional Learning Community webinars for new water/wastewater technology programs; conduct a national Defining Forum and occupational analyses to define current water technician level jobs; update the interactive Defining Water Management Careers Chart for high school/community college career counselors and students; revise the Brownfields in a Box with updated technology to interest new students in water careers; expand the electronic environmental resource library of juried water technology content; develop augmented/virtual reality modules in water/wastewater content; and assist college programs in crosswalks to increase the number of veterans receiving college credit for military training/experience. Results of ATEEC activities and evaluation will be broadly disseminated. This project is funded by the NSF Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Advanced Technology Environmental Education Center: A Resource Center
Ellen Kabat Lensch
Eastern Iowa Community College