An ATEP by any other name would be—whatever

     As you know, ATEP, on 68 or so acres out in Tustin, has long been troubled. The district  doesn't have much to show for its 10+ years of effort and expense, developing the dang thing, whatever the hell it is supposed to be.
     It wasn't always called "ATEP." I recall the programs envisioned for the Tustin facility way back when. For a while, there was talk of offering training in "homeland security" and culinary arts.
     Today, I visited the ATEP website (here). The site sports a menu, including these items:
  • ATEP Today
  • Future Plans
  • Site Development and Planning
  • Development Partner Opportunities
     I clicked on “ATEP Today.” There, we’re told:
     The Advanced Technology & Education Park (ATEP) in Tustin opened an initial 1-1/2 acre campus in Fall 2007 to immediately begin serving students and the community while the 68 acre development planning is under way. Irvine Valley College currently oversees the day to day operations of the ATEP site while the ATEP Development Team at South Orange County Community College District oversees development of site planning and partnerships for the expansion to 68 acres.
     Gosh, this blurb seems to be about ATEP tomorrow as much as it is about ATEP today.
     Next, I clicked on “Future plans” (does one ever plan things that are not of the future?). Here, we’re told that “South Orange County Community College District is developing the Advanced Technology & Education Park (ATEP) on 66 acres….”
     —OK. But just what IS ATEP, anyway?
     The name gives us a pretty good idea: it’s about “advanced technology.” Students are to be educated or trained relative to that. There's a need, we're told.
     I wish it were so simple.
     Over the years, the district seems to have considered the possibility of giving over (part of) the facility to such organizations as the “Young Americans,” who eventually (2010) opened The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts in beauteous Corona, CA. So district decision-makers’ fidelity to the idea of “advanced technology” education has always been somewhat loosey-goosey. I mean, learning to be a hoofer isn't about advanced technology, is it?
     The page goes on to elaborate. In bold face, we’re told that:
ATEP will focus on advanced technology, career technical, and workforce development training programs to support high demand industries….
     This description is somewhat equivocal. Yes, ATEP will "focus on advanced technology," but it will comprise "workforce development training programs to support high demand industries" as well. Hell, that could describe virtually anything in the CTE realm, as long as it is in "high demand."
     The rest of the “future plans” page is divided into two sections: (1) Saddleback College plans and (2) Irvine Valley College plans. Makes sense.
     The IVC section is utterly unsurprising. IVC is developing programs “in these areas”:
High-Tech Manufacturing and Product Design
Engineering and Design
Business and Professional Services, including Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment
Energy, Environment and Utilities
Information Services, Design and Networking
Digital Media, Game Design and Simulation
     This list generally concerns, not just the broad area of CTE (Career Technical Education), but CTE that is, well, advanced and technical—you know, like designing cars and widgets and shit.

     Oddly, the SC section concerns exactly one to-be-developed project (or “center”), here called the “Center for Innovation in Healthcare Education” (CIHE). It is explained thus:
     Saddleback College currently runs an award-winning Registered Nursing Program and other highly rated health career programs in Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLTs), Paramedic and EMT Training, Drug and Alcohol, Mental Health, Medical Assisting, Healthcare Information Technology and others. Saddleback College plans to develop a regional simulated health care facility providing an innovative, risk-free educational environment to address multiple safety and training needs of allied health workers. Program areas will include:
  • Professional Healthcare Provider skills
  • Disaster and Emergency Preparedness
  • Advanced Patient Simulations
  • Multi-disciplinary Training
  • Healthcare Team Leadership Development
  • 300-seat Healthcare Education Conference Center
…Industry projections estimate that the largest employment gains in Orange County will occur in healthcare industries … Saddleback College and SOCCCD were recently awarded a $2.75m Department of Labor grant to develop programs for the Center for Innovation in Healthcare Education….
     Two points: (1) the CIHE would seem to be, nothing really new, but an extension of SC’s already-existing and much ballyhooed cluster of "health career programs," and (2) the education/training envisioned for CIHE comprises a set of CTE areas not naturally associated with the concept or phrase “advanced technology.”
     That's what happens when your plans and definitions (i.e., your thoughts) are equivocal and bullshitty. IVC seems to be focussing on "advanced technology." SC seems to be focussing on training needed for "high demand" industries, whether or not they have anything to do with "advanced technology." Essentially, they're just extending their existing plans and projects onto a new site, up there in Tustin.
     The philosopher in me cringes. Things oughta make sense!
     Let's dump the "ATEP" moniker and just call this thing "Training Park." But we'd better take care to plant a couple of trees. —You know, it's a park.


Anonymous said…
I've watched ATEP develop (well it really hasn't done that). But it has sucked millions of dollars and thousands of hours of precious human resources. If only we could sell the place, divide the money and let the colleges have better facilities, more offices for faculty, and better services for students. Now, that's the ticket.
Roy Bauer said…
We can't sell the property. Part of the deal, when you receive this kind of property, is a restriction on sale. We cannot sell it (if I recall correctly) for 40 years.
Anonymous said…
I knew that when I wrote the 8:47 p.m. entry and that is why the word "If" is there.

And you did/do recall correctly--I believe we have to hold it for 50 years before we can shed ourselves of the headache: both schools may have collapsed by then under the expenditure dumped into this "facility". Especially if we go off Basic Aid.
Anonymous said…
When IVC opened as a satellite of Saddleback many years ago, there was a lot of complaining from the Saddleback folks because they saw IVC as a huge drain on the District's and Saddleback's finances, which was true for a number of years. Now Saddleback seems to be on the decline, at least in terms of its enrollment, while IVC is poised to grow much more. But IVC's identity was pretty clear from the beginning. It was to be a community college, even though it has its own particular flavor.

The problem with ATEP is that it is simply not another satellite of IVC or Saddleback. At least that was not the original vision for this campus. It is (or was) supposed to be something different, innovative, pushing the envelope, visionary, at the forefront of technology, anticipating needs and new technologies. The idea is a very good one, but the problem is that the people who are supposed to make all of this happen don't seem to be the right kind of people to make that idea into reality. It takes a very special, very talented, visionary kind of team to do this. And it is not easy to find people of that caliber who will take on that task. Failing that, we have ATEP today. It is still floundering, as it has been for a number of years. It doesn't know who it really is or what it wants to be when it grows up. That is a shame, but until the leadership of that campus changes, forges a vision for that facility, bring everyone on board, secures corporate support and funding, then ATEP will continue being what it still is, a non-descript, faceless, web-siteless, just a "satellite." How very unfortunate.
Anonymous said…
ATEP does have it's own website, jack'n da box! Me thinks you need to speak louder into the elbow!
Roy Bauer said…
Yes, much of this post refers to elements of that website.
Anonymous said…
Really? How about this. Try to access ATEP's website directly. Google ATEP. There's no link to ATEP. Sure, you can access "ATEP at IVC" from IVC's main website, but that's IVC courses at ATEP. Same for Saddleback. Here's more. Now, strangely enough, if you look at the links under "MySite," you CAN access an ATEP website (, which links to IVC and Saddleback courses and other information regarding the history of ATEP (opened in 2007) and "future plans," among other things. There is no unique identity to ATEP. It just says that there is a team developing this satellite/campus/site. Apparently they have been at it since 2007. Doesn't all of that seem odd? I stand by my earlier comments.
Roy Bauer said…
Well, again, whatever else might be said about your comments, ATEP does have a website, and so you are mistaken about that:
Why deny it?
Anonymous said…
When I Google "atep," I get, well, ATEP:
Is that a problem? Don't see how.

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