Building New Pathways to Biotechnology Technician Careers

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The Madison, Wisconsin, region has a high concentration of jobs in bioscience industries. For example, it ranks fourth in the nation for concentration of pharmaceutical industries. The existing Biotechnology Program at Madison Area Technical College has a 90% job placement rate, but does not produce sufficient graduates to meet regional industry demands. This project will establish a nine-credit Biotechnology Program for liberal arts and undeclared students at Madison Area Technical College. By integrating biotechnology laboratory skills and career development experiences into the general biology curriculum, more students may be attracted to bioscience technician careers. The project will develop undergraduate research experiences, internships, and digital badges to assess and document student mastery of key biotechnology skills. The nine-credit certificate program, which includes coursework in basic laboratory techniques and concepts, will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to gain employment in the biotechnology industry. Offering this certificate program to liberal arts/undeclared students who are not in the biotechnology career pipeline has the potential to increase the pool of qualified biotech employees.

This project involves a collaboration between the Biology department and Biotechnology associate degree program at the Madison Area Technical College, and the Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These partners will develop and implement a bioscience curriculum with the unifying theme of food security. This curriculum will be designed to incorporate the core competencies of undergraduate biology education and core skill standards for bioscience technicians. The project activities will provide liberal arts/undeclared students an opportunity at Madison Area Technical College to complete a biotechnology certificate and participate in digital badging system designed to communicate these skills to industry. Partnership with the Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center will provide students with internship experiences to hone skills and make industry connections. These activities have the potential to increase the number of students who have skills in demand for biotechnology jobs, improve and grow academic and industry opportunities, and increase access to STEM careers for all students. Students and key academic advisors (high school teachers, guidance counselors and administration) will be able to learn more about the academic programming available for bioscience students and associated bioscience careers through newly developed "Bioscience Career Roadmaps."

Project PI: 
Kitrina Carlson PhD
Host Organization: Madison College
Other Collaborators: 
  • Heidi  Kaeppler PhD (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Mary Ellen Kraus PhD (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Elizabeth Van Ginkel (Co-Principal Investigator)
Grant number: DUE 1801143
Project Contact Info: 
Madison Area Technical College Madison WI