About M-C Mentors

Mentor-Connect Mentors give back to the ATE Program by working with prospective grantees to transfer knowledge and teach successful grant-writing strategies as they mentor and develop the next generation Principal Investigators for the ATE Program.

Mentor Spotlight

Matthew Swenson finds mentoring rewarding

  • Current Job:

    Director of Grants, Green River College, Auburn, Washington.

  • Area of Expertise:

    Fundraising, particularly grantwriting; also, project and volunteer management.

  • Years in Profession:

    20

  • Years as a Mentor:

    5

  • Hobby/Hobbies:

    Most outdoorsy “ings”…Backpacking, camping, cross-country skiing, hiking, kayaking, mountaineering, etc. Except cycling, for no particular reason.

  • Fun Fact:

    My wife Joni and I met in 1997 in Mongolia, while we were both serving as volunteers in the U.S. Peace Corps.

  • Advice for People Preparing ATE Proposals:

    A well-designed project will likely produce a competitive grant proposal. A well-written proposal can’t compensate for an incoherent project. Project design should precede and take priority over proposal development; or as I tell colleagues far too often: “Grants are the tail, not the dog.”

Why have you stayed involved in Mentor-Connect as a Mentor for five years in a row?

It’s a tremendously rewarding experience being able to help talented, imaginative people to fulfill their visions.

Do you still mentor people from previous Mentor-Connect cohorts? What are you helping them with now?

Yes, with other NSF grant proposals – and occasionally, general advice. It’s gratifying to retain and deepen these friendships over time. I occasionally ask them for advice, too…

Have you seen much cross-pollination among the mentees in the past or now?

To some extent. My experience is that this happens gradually, as former Mentor-Connect participants become more confident and visible members of the ATE community, through ongoing communication and networking at conferences like HI-TEC. That sense of community is what distinguishes ATE grantees from those who’ve received funding from other sources.

Do you have any favorite mentoring technique(s) that you find helps mentees write competitive grant proposals?

Asking questions from the perspective of a lay person can be helpful, especially when supporting prospective faculty PIs/Co-PIs. Frequent communication, even if it’s brief, can also sustain applicants’ momentum and facilitate their adapting when changing circumstances warrant modifications to their original ideas.

How do you use the proposal component checklist you developed for yourself?

I refer to it every time that I’m helping colleagues at my own college develop ATE proposals. Because the checklist is based on decades of collective experience, it’s readily accepted by others as a set of milestones to gauge whether their proposals are on track. When colleagues use the checklist to hold themselves accountable for their progress, I can focus on supporting them.

2022 Mentors

Mentor-Connect Mentors give back to the ATE Program by transferring knowledge and helping to develop the next generation of STEM faculty leaders for the ATE Program. Not pictured; Anca Sala

2022 Mentor Fellows

Mentor Fellows shadow master Mentors to develop the knowlege, skills, and experience to transition into a Mentor role for the Mentor-Connect Project. 

Current Mentors

Jonathan Beck

Executive Director and PI, National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT). I’ve worked in the Aerospace and Autonomous technology industries for 18 years.  My career has involved creating unmanned aircraft system programs across state and federal organizations and higher education. In 2011, Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, MN launched the nation’s first UAS maintenance program.  Over the past 8 years I have served on the leadership team at Northland, which has raised over $37 million in advancing autonomous technology education. I have led four NSF ATE awards as a Principal Investigator, working with a dedicated team to create professional development workshops, STEM engagement opportunities, educational pathways, industry partnerships and expanded educational resources in autonomous technologies.

Ann Beheler

PI for the NSF National Convergence Technology Center and the NSF IT Skill Standards 2-2- and Beyond project; previously lead for a large DOL Round 1 Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training consortium. I have been in IT since long before IT was cool, but my focus is much broader. I am totally dedicated to helping build innovative technical programs that improve students’ lives, either directly or by helping colleagues. I have corporate, entrepreneurial and academic management experience as a Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dean and faculty member. My focus is on bringing together business and industry to identify knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by future "right-skilled" job candidates, then working with faculty to align curriculum so that students completing the credentials will be readily employable. I have a PhD in Community College Leadership, an MS in Computer Science, and a BS in Math. I am married to Carl and our four children and five grandchildren are our delights. I also am a frustrated artist, enjoying many different media.

Mel Cossette

Executive Director/PI for the National Science Foundation ATE-funded National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) and PI for the ATE-funded Project Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing and Materials (TEAMM), both housed at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington. I have over 20 years of experience in manufacturing education, have developed technician training programs for industry and educational institutions, serve on numerous committees and national boards and worked in various industries prior to holding administrative positions in the community and technical college system.

Diane Dostie

Currently external evaluator for several ATE projects and a regional center. I served as PI for two NSF ATE advanced manufacturing projects and as Co-PI for an ATE project in additive manufacturing. The projects involved research, curriculum development, collaboration with faculty across several institutions, and professional development. With over twenty-five years of experience developing partnerships and implementing professional development and training programs for companies in Central/Western Maine, I served on boards for several local and state economic and workforce development organizations and raised over $3 million to fund the renovation and expansion of the precision machining lab at Central Maine Community College. My career began as a technology education teacher in middle and high schools where female students excelled in nontraditional classes.

Sharon Gusky

Principal Investigator for an NSF project entitled Engaging Students from Classrooms and Camps to College and Technical Careers. I am a professor of Biology at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, where I have been teaching since 1998. I am a member of Mentor Connect’s first cohort of mentees and was awarded a New to ATE NSF grant to start a manufacturing program in 2014. I have served as a community college liaison for the EvaluATE Center and am a member of the National ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference Steering Committee.  I am very active in Biology Education reform and currently serve as president of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

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Vicki Jeppesen

Vice President of College Advancement and Executive Director of the NTC Foundation at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, WI. I have written, implemented, monitored, and closed grants at NTC for 13 years with awards of nearly $90M. I am a PI for a USDA SARE grant and been a reviewer for the US Department of Education. I was part of an NTC team in Mentor Connect’s Cohort 8—what a fabulous experience! I have worked in community/technical colleges for 30 years and appreciate that no matter what role one plays in higher education, it makes a positive impact on students, employers, and communities. I enjoy spending time with my four adult children, reading, writing, and beekeeping.

Ann Johnson

Associate Director and Co-PI of the ATE Center of Excellence for Geospatial Technology (GeoTech Center), Jefferson Community and Technical College, Louisville, KY for the past ten years. The GeoTech Center focuses on supporting community college geospatial programs. Prior to joining the Center, I was Higher Education Manager at Esri, a major geospatial software company, where I helped educators start or expand their geospatial programs. I have served as Co-PI on several other grants focused on geospatial technology, including a California Community College Geographic information system Network grant from the state of California and NSF ATE grants that include Geographic Information System Access and two iGETT projects. My education includes BS and MS degrees in geology and additional graduate studies in geography.

Judy Kasabian

Mathematics instructor at El Camino College, Torrance, CA. I have served as the PI on several NSF projects. Science FEST aimed to increase the science content and pedagogical knowledge of future K-12 teachers. Meeting of the Minds brought 22 community college educators and representatives from professional organizations together to examine STEM teacher education at the community college level. This resulted in the report: The State of Affairs - Impact and Implications of STEM Teacher Education at the Two-Year Colleges. The Los Angeles Collaborative for Teacher Excellence (LACTE) enabled 10 two- and four-year colleges/universities to enhance the mathematics and science education of future K-12 teachers. I have reviewed NSF proposals in a variety of competitions, including many ATE proposals that focus on community colleges new to ATE.

Greg Kepner

Co-PI for the NSF-ATE Micro Nano Technology Education Center. I was the Director/PI of the NSF-ATE Midwest Photonics Education Center and a PI for 2 NSF projects. I also served as Co-PI for the OP-TEC national center and served on an NSF National Visiting Committee. I retired from Indian Hills Community College where I served as the Department Chair of Advanced Manufacturing and previously as the Industrial Technology Coordinator and Robotics/Automation Instructor. I have a Master’s Degree in Higher Education & Community College Leadership from Iowa State University, a BA Degree in Psychology from Buena Vista University and an AA and AAS Degree in Electronics Technology from IHCC. I have experience as a Silicon Valley senior field service engineer in semiconductor manufacturing.

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Elaine Kohrman

Director of Grants, Somerset Community College, KY. Previously, I taught Biology at SCC for 12 years and was the Associate Dean of Math and Sciences. I was a member of Mentor-Connect’s Cohort 3 as a Co-PI developing an ATE project in 3D printing. The project was funded as a New-to-ATE project and jump-started the 3D printing program at SCC. That project was followed by our current ATE project, bringing 3D printing programs to other educational institutions in Kentucky and Tennessee. I am also the SCC institutional PI for Kentucky’s NSF EPSCoR advanced manufacturing project, where we are the only community college in an eight-institution collaboration. My BS and MS degrees in Biology were earned at the University of Cincinnati.

Ken Mays

Director, Automotive Technology Program, Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon. I served as PI on Central Oregon’s first New-to-ATE grant, which developed curriculum to address needed training in vehicle electrification systems. We were also selected for an NSF-ATE project grant, on which I serve as PI to develop advanced vehicle training standards for technicians working with high-voltage and high-pressure vehicle systems. After completing an A.S. Degree from Southwest Junior College, I worked as an Automotive Technician and then business owner before moving to Central Oregon to teach at and direct an Automotive Technology Program - now for 28 years. Jacque and I have seven children and are crowned with seven grandchildren. My main credibility in the NSF community is that I call Elaine and Fred Craft my friends.

Doug Laven

Director of Mechatronics at South Central College (SCC), North Mankato, MN and PI for the Independent Mechatronics Education Curriculum (iMEC) NSF grant, focused on developing a distance learning model that utilizes online, simulation, and remote-access delivery methods for the Mechatronics Engineering Technology (MET) AAS degree program. The project will build a pipeline of workers and increase access to MET training. I also directed a Department of Labor Community-Based Job Training grant that helped launch the Mechatronics program at SCC. I am a panelist on the Mechatronics Community Exchange, sponsored by the Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE) Center. I also conduct workshops at the High Impact Technology Exchange (HI-TEC) conferences, and I worked 18 years in industry as Engineering Manager and President, specializing in surface mount packaging.

Richard Polanin

Retired Professor and Program Chair of the Manufacturing Engineering Technology and Welding Technology programs at Illinois Central College, and Co-PI for Weld-Ed, the National Center for Welding Education and Training.  I am also the PI for a Weld-Ed project in collaboration with the ASNT to identify NDT student learning outcomes. I hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Illinois State University and a Doctorate from the University of Illinois. I am a consultant in manufacturing engineering and welding engineering and inspection.  I publish and provide presentations in the areas of manufacturing, robotics, and welding. I am a graduate of the Illinois Scholars program and a Certified Manufacturing Engineer and Certified Welding Inspector.

Pamela Silvers

Principal Investigator for a third NSF ATE project entitled Skilled Workers Get Jobs 2.1: High School Engagement. Since 1992 I have taught all aspects of computer technologies at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, first as an adjunct instructor, now as a full-time instructor and former department chairperson. I am a first-generation, non-traditional college graduate. After a divorce I completed both a bachelor’s (UNC-Asheville) and master’s (Western Carolina University) degree. Engaging students – particularly women – is not only a living, it is my passion. I am a huge Disney fan. My husband, Vernon, and I also like to take advantage of the outdoor hiking opportunities in Western North Carolina.

Matthew Swenson

Director of Grants, Green River College, Auburn, Washington since 2013. I have contributed to multiple ATE grant proposals, as well as advised ATE PIs and Co-PIs on grant-related matters. From 2000 to 2013, I conducted fundraising, planned events, and managed volunteers for Green River College and community-based nonprofit organizations in Washington State. I volunteer for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Federal Funding Task Force and currently serve on its Federal Agency Liaison Committee. I hold a Master’s degree in Not-for-Profit Leadership from Seattle University and a certificate in Advanced Fundraising Management from the University of Washington. I met my wife Joni while we served as U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Mongolia. Our favorite activities are backpacking, mountain climbing, and skiing with our teenage daughter.

Tom Tubon

Faculty member at Madison College and honorary research fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I teach Biotechnology courses in the Applied Associates Degree Biotechnology Program and the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program as well as Human Stem Cell Technologies courses. I have been involved with NSF ATE since 2009 and currently serve as PI for the ATE initiative for developing workforce-centered programming in Emerging Technologies to steer the development of a National Coordination Network for Cell and Tissue Manufacturing. I also have leadership roles in the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing (CMaT), the NSF OIA National Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), and the NSF ATE National InnovATEBIO Center for Biotechnology.

Karen Wosczyna-Birch

State Director, Connecticut College of Technology, since 1995 and instrumental in creating a nationally recognized seamless pathway in engineering and technology programs between all twelve public community colleges in CT and eight universities and high schools. I am also the Executive Director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, an NSF Center of Excellence, which has received over $9 million in ATE funding since 2004. I have been a champion of engineering and technology education for the past 30 years, and I serve on numerous boards, including the International Honor Society EPT, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers, and Hartford High's Academy of Engineering and Green Technology. I have been involved in the Obama manufacturing regional workshops, and in 2014, my commitment to STEM education led to an invitation to the White House College Opportunity Summit.

Current Mentor Fellows

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Christine Delahanty

Area Coordinator of Science and Engineering, Professor of Engineering and Physics at Bucks County Community College. I am currently PI of an ATE grant: "Increasing the Number of Engineering Technicians in Southeastern PA," and have developed new programs of study to promote workforce readiness. I began my career as an electrical engineer at General Electric, where I worked in both military and commercial satellite operations. I was advisor to two teams that made the finals of the NSF AACC CCIC (2016 and 2017). I earned a BS in physics from Villanova University, MS in electrical engineering from University of Pennsylvania, and an EdD in Educational Leadership and Management from Drexel University, with a concentration in Creativity and Innovation. My husband Fran and I have three wonderful daughters. We love to send each other pictures of our cats.

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Louis McIntyre

Director for Grants Evaluation and Compliance with McIntyre Leadership Development Group, Fayetteville NC. After 24 years of corporate textile product development and operations management, in 2004 I began my career in higher education as a biology faculty member with Robeson Community College, in Lumberton NC. During my 17-year career in higher education, along with administrative positions, I have served as PI for NSF S-STEM, USDE Title III and TRiO Student Support Services grants, Instructional Director for an NSF-ATE project and mentor for the NIH Bridges to Baccalaureate program. I thoroughly enjoy performing utility work with my 53 Ford Jubilee tractor and playing games with our 12 grandchildren.

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Anca Sala

Involved with NSF ATE for 10 years, as PI leading two engineering technology projects, Co-PI for the MPEC regional center, and participating in proposal review panels. I held administrative positions as academic Dean and Department Chair for engineering and information technology with Baker College for 15 years, focusing on curriculum development and program assessment and evaluation. As a faculty member I taught a variety of science, engineering, and technology courses. Previously I was a research and development engineer in the telecommunications industry. I hold BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest and a PhD in physics from the University of Toledo. I am a member of ASEE, a senior member of IEEE and Optica, an author of a textbook targeting technician education, and an inventor with several patents.

Current CO-Mentors

Chris Hatfield

Executive Director, Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence. I have 12 years experience as an Automotive Technology instructor and technical college dean, am ASE certified and have multiple industry certifications. Before teaching I worked as an automotive technician, OEM contractor, and owned a business specializing in hybrid electric vehicles. I have written 7 automotive textbooks and consulted on e-learning products. My BS is in Automotive Engineering Technology with a minor in Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and my EdM is in Community College Teaching & Learning. In my current role, I lead the state’s effort to engage employers, enhance education, and inspire students in transportation programs. I serve on education and industry advisory boards and the MTTIA board, as Co-Chair for the MN-DOT CAV-X Committee and Co-PI for the National Center for Autonomous Technologies.

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Elizabeth (Beth) Hawthorne

Senior Professor Emerita of Union County College, Cranford, NJ, where I taught computer science and cybersecurity classes for over two decades. Before retiring, I was part of the 2015 Mentor-Connect cohort and submitted a successful proposal – Cyber Service! Interdisciplinary & Experiential Education for Cyber Forensics Technicians – in the new-to-ATE category. I served as the Cyber Service! PI for three years and as Co-PI for five years on the NSF C5 Project, Catalyzing Computing and Cybersecurity in Community Colleges. I currently serve as a MentorLinks mentor and co-chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Education Board. I am also an adjunct online lecturer for my undergraduate Alma Mater, Rider University, NJ. My hobbies include sailing in the Gulf of Mexico and raising Goldendoodles to become therapy dogs.

Ying Tsu Loh

Associate Director of a science education non-profit, Bay Area Bioscience Education Community (BABEC). I provide leadership on BABEC’s collaborative projects with educational, industry and non-profit partners, including the NSF-ATE National Center for Biotechnology Education, InnovATEBIO, where I lead the supply chain guidelines project with the California Statewide Director for Life Science/Biotechnology. I am also adjunct faculty at City College, San Francisco (CCSF), where I co-founded a mentoring program for post-docs at UCSF and mentor internship students. My recent ATE experience is writing a proposal for a plant/ag biotech project with a colleague at Allan Hancock College.

Bruce Nash

Assistant Director for Science, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center. I hold a BS in genetics from the University of Alberta and a PhD in medical and molecular genetics from the University of Toronto, where I studied the genes that guide axonal growth cones and migrating cells during development. I have expertise in developmental biology, cell biology, genetics and microscopy. After a postdoc at the University of Oregon, I joined the DNALC in 2005, where I develop, disseminate, support and teach high school and college level curricula. I have developed approaches that support authentic student research using RNA interference, DNA barcoding, and metabarcoding. In each case, this curriculum is designed to integrate bioinformatics and molecular biology, and has the flexibility to support many research projects with unified methods. I am an avid sailor and gardener.

Poornima Rao

Manager of InnovATEBIO, a NSF-ATE funded National Biotechnology Education Center at Austin Community College, Austin, TX. I also teach cell culture techniques and principles of biomanufacturing, and I coordinate student internships. I first came to ACC as a curriculum specialist to develop and design the biomanufacturing course; I subsequently hosted workshops for students and faculty to enable them to understand and implement the workforce component in the course. I have coordinated and managed the state Wagner-Peyser Workforce grant and several NSF grants. I have worked in the biotechnology industry as a quality control chemist at Glaxo SmithKline, a product scientist at a few local start-up companies and at a monoclonal antibody company as a manufacturing supervisor.

Previous Mentor Fellows

  • 2020 Fellows

    From left to right, Deidre Sullivan, Tom Tubon, Richard Polanin, Jonathan Beck, and Sharon Gusky

  • 2019 Fellows

    From left to right, Matthew Swenson, Ann Johnson, Doug Laven, and Ken Mays

  • 2018 Fellows

    From left to right, Danine Tomlin, Edgar Troudt, and Diane Dostie

  • 2017 Fellows

    From left to right, James (Jim) Hyder and Pamela Silvers

Mentor News

Congratulations to the 2021 Mentor Fellows & Co-Mentors

Congratulations to the 2021 Mentor Fellows & Co-Mentors

The Mentor Fellows internship program is an activity of the Mentor-Connect: Leadership Development and Outreach for ATE-2 project (DUE #1501183).

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Mentor-Connect Launches New Website

Mentor-Connect Launches New Website

Mentor-Connect is proud to announce the launch of the newly redesigned Mentor-Connect website.

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Mentor-Connect Collaborates to Win HI-TEC Award

Mentor-Connect Collaborates to Win HI-TEC Award

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The New-to-ATE Two-Year STEM Faculty Mentorship Application is now Available

The New-to-ATE Two-Year STEM Faculty Mentorship Application is now Available

Apply to participate in Cohort 11

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