Ann Beheler, executive director of emerging technology grants at Collin College, was part of a team awarded the 2019 Innovative Program Award by the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC), an annual conference of advanced technological education. HI-TEC is produced by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education community.
The award recognizes the Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) model and honors Beheler, who developed the BILT over the past 16 years and serves as the principal investigator for the national Convergence Technology Center (CTC) at Collin College’s Frisco Campus (Preston Ridge). Glenn Wintrich, chairman emeritus of the BILT, and Matthew Glover, current chairman of the BILT, will accept the award along with Beheler at the HI-TEC conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
The national HI-TEC Innovative Program Award recognizes teams of advanced technology education professionals who have designed and implemented significant innovations that have led to a positive impact in connecting students to technology education.
According to Dr. Don Weasenforth, Collin College vice president and provost of the Frisco Campus (Preston Ridge), the BILT turns the idea of an advisory council on its head by inviting business and industry leaders to take an active and engaged role in co-leading a program which leads to students learning the skills the job market demands.
He explained that BILT members annually vote on job skills entry-level workers will need over the next one to three years. By using a voting system, faculty are given a concrete blueprint to ensure the skills the BILT needs are taught in the classroom.
“The primary architect of the BILT model is Dr. Ann Beheler,” Weasenforth said. “Ann has refined the process and made it her mission to disseminate it far and wide. She trained more than 20 colleges with IT programs to embrace a paradigm shift in how they partner with advisory committees. Many groups have adopted the BILT model as a result of Ann’s intervention.”
Since the CTC was first funded in 2012, Beheler and her staff at the CTC have developed toolkits and worksheets, recorded webinars, made presentations, appeared on panels, and hosted role-playing workshops. Looking just at the 31 conferences in 15 states plus Washington, DC, where the BILT model has been delivered, close to 1,300 people have heard about this approach. When attendees of workshops and webinars are taken into consideration, Weasenforth said the number jumps to more than 2,500 nonduplicated faculty, administrators, and business people who have been taught how programs can transform their advisory committees into BILTs.
According to Beheler, it takes a village of visionaries to spread the BILT model throughout the country.
“When colleges utilize the BILT model it affects the nation because students graduate with skills that make them readily employable,” Beheler said. “This model works because we have commitment from our employers to help college programs be future facing and dedicated educators to align curriculum to implement the skills the employers say they will demand. It’s a partnership, and the key is the colleges have to listen to industry and provide industry with feedback.”
The future looks bright for this initiative. The next iteration of the BILT model is in development now as seven CTC grant partners are establishing regional hubs of high schools, community colleges, and universities aligned along technical education pathways. Each hub will manage regional BILTs focused on IT/cybersecurity job needs in that region.
For more information about the BILT model and the national convergence technology center, visit connectedtech.org.