NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year 2012, its budget was $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the ATE Program to improve and expand educational programs for technicians to work in high-tech, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields that drive the U.S. economy. With an emphasis on two-year colleges, this Congressionally mandated program involves partnerships between academic institutions and employers to promote improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels.
The ATE program supports curriculum development; professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; career pathways to two-year colleges from secondary schools and from two-year colleges to four-year institutions; and other activities. Another goal is articulation between two-year and four-year programs for K-12 prospective teachers that focus on technological education. ATE also focuses on research to advance the knowledge base related to technician education.