The greater Washington, D.C. area is home to numerous biotechnology companies that require an educated skilled technical workforce (STW) in order to operate. This project will support the industry needs by recruiting, training, and upskilling students through the Biotechnology Program at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). NOVA's Biotechnology Program is ideally situated to provide students the skills to be successfully employed in entry-level positions in biotechnology. The program is housed on the Manassas campus in Prince William County, the first minority majority county in the Commonwealth. The project will recruit students from underrepresented populations and non-traditional students, including military veterans. This project is expected to benefit 20-40 students each year by providing them with the skills necessary for entry-level employment in the bioeconomy workforce.
The project will recruit and graduate increasing numbers of NOVA biotechnology students to meet the workforce needs of the regional biotechnology and life sciences industries. Four project activities will guide the efforts of the principal investigators. First is to recruit students with the aim of increasing the numbers of underserved students including women, veterans, and non-traditional students such as adult learners. Second is to support student retention through a summer orientation program, assigning mentors/advisors for biotechnology majors, developing more robust research experiences and internship program opportunities, and developing a peer tutoring program. Third is to revise biotechnology curriculum to meet the needs of regional biotechnology industries and provide professional development for faculty and partner high school teachers. Fourth, and finally is to develop and implement a career preparation workshop series to prepare biotechnology students for the workforce. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced technology fields that drive the Nation's economy.