Creating Equitable Pathways to Careers in Biotechnology

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The Los Angeles/Orange County region supports almost 5,000 life science or biotechnology firms that collectively employ nearly 100,000 people. Over the next five years, the biotechnology workforce is projected to add more than 4,000 technician jobs each year. This project aims to address the regional workforce needs for these skilled biotechnicians by creating a biotechnology program that specializes in biomanufacturing. This program will be designed to quickly prepare students for positions in the biotechnology industry. By earning stackable credentials, students will be prepared for skilled technical jobs with a living wage in a growing industry that offers substantial employment stability. The new biotechnology program will include course-based undergraduate research experiences that align classroom experiences with industry expectations. In addition, the College will support students in the biotechnology program with peer mentoring, enhance classes with biomanufacturing case studies, and develop an internship program. The internships will take place at the college, making them accessible to more students. The project is designed to accelerate entry into life science and biotechnology employment and address the ongoing need for skilled STEM graduates in southern California. By providing the education needed for entry into biotechnology jobs in the Los Angeles area, this project can help mitigate disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on the largely Hispanic and African American communities served by the College.

This support will enable Compton College to: (1) launch an equitable and industry-validated biotechnology program, (2) establish an on-site internship program, (3) provide professional development for community college instructors and secondary school educators, and (4) recruit and retain a diverse body of students. The college will use industry aligned skills standards to revise existing biotechnology courses and develop new ones that meet industry needs. Annually, 24 students are expected to earn a credential that can qualify them for employment as a Laboratory Assistant. Students earning this credential may go on to earn a Biomanufacturing Technician Certificate, which will prepare them to work as Biomanufacturing Technicians. At least 20 College faculty and secondary teachers will receive professional development in the form of externships with regional companies and will use their externship experiences to augment their classroom instruction. Finally, students will be recruited to participate in a summer Biotech Experience that will give high school and community college students a chance to explore biotechnology as a potential future career. The revised biotechnology program will be permanently integrated into the college's academic structure. Project leaders will regionally disseminate their findings throughout the California Community College System in addition to national conferences.

Project PI: 
Katherine Marsh, PI
Host Organization: Compton College
Other Collaborators: 
Abiodun Osanyinpeju, Co-PI
Grant number: DUE 2100149
Project Contact Info: 
Compton CA