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College Selected for Mentor-Connect Program

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College Selected for Mentor-Connect Program

Posted: Feb 01 2017

WILLISTON, N.D. -  In an effort to improve WSC's grant opportunities WSC's Petroleum Automation and Control Program was recently accepted into the National Science Foundation (NSF) Mentor-Connect Program. 

An outreach initiative, Mentor-Connect provides leadership development for the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program (ATE).  

Assigned experts will assist WSC in a ten-month program to draft a NSF ATE grant proposal. In addition to providing one-on-one mentorship, these experts facilitate faculty and leadership development, offer technical assistance, and provide resources to ensure WSC's grant is properly prepared for review.  

"WSC was chosen from 29 schools representing 22 states," explained Pamela Rasmussen, TREND Grant Director and Career Navigator. "At the end of the Mentor-Connect program, WSC will seek funding from the NSF ATE Grant to sustain and grow its Petroleum Automation and Control Program."  

The Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant provided funding through Training for Regional Energy in North Dakota (TREND) to start WSC's Petroleum Automation and Control Program.  

"WSC's interest in this mentorship opportunity rests in moving the Automation and Control program forward to the economic and educational benefit of students, industry, our community and the region," said Rasmussen. "Momentum in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines increases collective intellectual capital and positively impacts the economy, jobs, and lives."  

The idea came from WSC's Petroleum Technology Instructor, Alberto Bellina, when he attended Illinois Valley Community College last summer for training in Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and Automation.  

"During our session, we explained where IVCC was as a college before being awarded National Science Foundation Grants and where we are today," explained Jim Gibson, Program Coordinator at Illinois Valley Community College. "When we began, we were in the basement without any equipment. Now the first thing people see when they come into our college is our technology center. The square footage committed to our programs has increased by three-and-a-half times."  

Seeing the passion that Bellina had for WSC's Petroleum Automation and Control Program, Gibson and co-worker Rose Lynch agreed to mentor WSC during its application process to the Mentor-Connect Program. Gibson and Lynch joined forces with WSC's Bellina, Rasmussen, and Ken Quamme, WSC's Business Technology Chair to form WSC's Mentor-Connect Program team.  

"We look forward to learning from Jim's knowledge and experience in building his own Automation and Control Program," explained Bellina.  

WSC's team is attending the 2017 Mentor-Connect Outreach and Technical Assistance Workshop in New Orleans, LA February 1-3, 2017 to begin its Mentor-Connect Program involvement. 

"NSF did not have the Mentor-Connect Program when we applied for NSF Grants," stated Gibson. "The program teaches you what to do and not to do when applying for these grants. It would have helped us get accepted earlier and avoid mistakes when IVCC initially applied."  

Over 80% of participants in the Mentor-Connect program receive their ATE Grant upon completion.  

For more information regarding the Mentor-Connect Program, please contact Pamela Rasmussen, TREND Grant Director and Career Navigator, at 701.774.4563. or visit

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