The innovative project is developing an Analyzer Technology field of study, culminating in an advanced technology credential for the Instrumentation A.A.S. degree program. ATOP is a multifaceted project that cuts across several ATE Project categories by creating national skills standards for Analyzer Technicians, developing analyzer technology curriculum, providing technical experiences for students, offering professional development for instructors, and disseminating deliverables widely. ATOP builds upon the work accomplished by the NSF-funded Consortia for Digital and Fieldbus Technology Education and is supported by national instrumentation organizations and industry.
The petroleum refining and chemical manufacturing industries nationwide have a quantifiable need for Analyzer Technicians to monitor, maintain, repair, and install sampling and analysis equipment. The first of its kind offered by a college in the U.S., ATOP involves students in the study of analytical instruments, emphasizing their use in safety, product analysis and quality, and environmental monitoring and control. Analyzer instrumentation applications in the curriculum include gas chromatography, pH, conductivity, air and water quality, oxygen in gases, infrared, hydrocarbons, toxic gas, and combustibles, as well as the overarching technology of sample systems. The primary audiences that are benefiting from the activities include two-year college students, particularly those underrepresented in STEM fields, faculty members from two and four-year institutions, and industry. In addition, high school students and their teachers are involved in activities to increase the pipeline of analyzer technicians.