National Director of High School Development
Universal Technical Institute
Manchester, New Hampshire
Universal Technical Institute (UTI), based in Scottsdale,Arizona, provides postsecondary education for students seeking careers as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians. As the national director of high school development for UTI, Ellner champions the connection between automotive industry training and academics and the importance of a relevant real-world context for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. Only a few years ago, far too many in the education community scoffed at the notion that the stewardship of the advanced technician workforce was a critical component of the U.S. strategy to improve STEM education, says James Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition. Set against this backdrop, Mr. Ellner has been the most incredible champion for the millions of American men and women who work in the transportation trades as a vital link in the so-called STEM pipeline.
With 25 years of leadership in education, Ellner travels the nation to foster relationships with hundreds of high schools, and he promotes opportunities for crosswalks between academics and CTE. His workshops bring the excitement of NASCAR to math and science students studying downforce and circuits; his instructor seminars have equipped more educators to collaborate with their academic colleagues, obtain grant funding and request academic credit for their CTE programs. Working hard to change perceptions of CTE, Ellner created and oversees nine annual regional summits at UTI campuses for state school counselor association leaders so that they can share best practices, receive leadership training and learn more about CTE and STEM. Under his leadership, UTI has expanded its support and involvement in SkillsUSA and the New York Auto Dealers Association student contests, as well as revamped their scholarship program, which offers more than $15 million to CTE students. Ellner serves on the STEM Education Coalition Board of Directors in Washington, D.C., the Industry Workforce Needs Council and the Opportunity Nation Coalition, and he is a leading advocate for increased spending on non-four-year degree STEM programs.