Recent innovations in personalized medicine have spurred rapid growth in the regional biopharmaceutical industry and an increased demand for skilled technicians. Working closely with industry leaders, this project from Frederick Community College will create a specialized curriculum to meet the needs of the regional biotechnology workforce. Over the three-year project, 25 students will gain specialized skills in cell therapy and flow cytometry as part of an associate’s degree, certificate, letter of recognition, or Registered Apprenticeship pathway. The overall enrollment in the Frederick Community College biotechnology program is anticipated to increase by 50%. The project will establish a new advisory team comprised of business and industry leaders to guide the development of a new Cell Therapy and Flow Cytometry course. Faculty will receive training, a flow cytometer will be purchased, and the instrument will be used in the delivery of hands-on instruction. A recruitment specialist will be hired to develop and implement a comprehensive recruitment plan. The project has the potential to broaden participation in the STEM workforce by making affordable, relevant, industry-validated biotechnology technician education accessible to local students, many of whom represent underserved populations.
The project has two overarching goals: 1) to meet the growing industry need for technicians with cell therapy and flow cytometry skills, and 2) to increase enrollment of traditional and non-traditional students in the Frederick Community College biotechnology program. The project will develop a new Cell Therapy and Flow Cytometry course that will align with workforce requirements of regional industry partners. This course will provide hands-on instruction in cell therapy and flow cytometry techniques and will be required for all biotechnology program pathways. The project will also develop and execute a comprehensive recruitment plan to increase awareness among local high school students, generate interest among undergraduate students, and appeal to job seekers and workers who wish to expand their skill sets. Faculty will receive training on using flow cytometers to expand their knowledge of cell therapy techniques and procure one to provide hands-on instruction. To ensure the curriculum is aligned with industry needs, the project will engage a new Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) to provide subject matter expertise, input, guidance and feedback on course development and implementation.
Valerie Cousins, CoPI, Frederick Community College