* A working draft of resources and reports from an NSF-sponsored project intended to strengthen the role of mathematics in Advanced Technological Education (ATE) programs. Intended as a resource for ATE faculty and members of the mathematical community. Comments are welcome by e-mail to the project directors:
Susan L. Forman or
Lynn A. Steen. *

Programs supported by NSF's Advanced Technological Education (ATE) initiative prepare students for careers in rapidly growing sectors of the economy that rely heavily on information technology. Mathematics plays a unique role in ATE projects: always essential but rarely central, always used but rarely noticed. As everyone's concern, mathematics easily becomes no one's concern. To ensure a proper place for mathematics in ATE programs, project directors need to confront many issues, including these:

- Mathematics is rarely central to ATE curricular objectives. Projects generally set a mathematics requirement for students, but expect only that students meet the goals of the ATE courses.
- Mathematics is often taught to ATE students in academic contexts that are disconnected from students' experience rather than in situations that resemble those in which they will eventually use mathematics.
- In order to accommodate different student skill levels, ATE course materials are mathematically very uneven. Often their levels are based more on students' mathematical skills than on the mathematical potential of the ATE area.
- Many ATE applications of mathematics are not well known, primarily because these applications are not part of the experience or working knowledge of mathematics faculty. (See Case Studies for examples of newer applications in which mathematics plays an important role.)
- Good mathematics often remains hidden. Because ATE projects generally focus on the operation of specialized software or protocols, much interesting mathematics lies invisible just beneath the surface.
- Paradoxically, strong mathematics in ATE programs is embedded mathematics, which explains why so much of it is invisible. Isolating this kind of mathematics from its natural context may well weaken rather than strengthen it.
- Often it takes an experienced mathematician to detect aspects of ATE programs that employ (or could benefit from) mathematical habits of mind. Better understanding of mathematics does lead to better solutions.
- Mathematicians need to consult with practitioners in ATE fields in order to understand and interpret the technology. Thus collaboration is essential.
- Even at institutions with funded ATE programs, there is relatively little interaction between mathematics and ATE faculty. Mathematics faculty are accustomed to teaching from a prescribed syllabus and resist temptations (such as ATE projects) that may distract them from covering traditional skills.
- Most ATE programs rely on standard mathematics courses--e.g., college algebra, elementary statistics, calculus--whose curriculs and course structure is well established without any relation to the kinds of applications found in ATE programs.

**Copyright © 1999.**
*Last Updated:* October 12, 1999.
*Comments to:*
Susan L. Forman or
Lynn A. Steen.