This project proposes to provide work-based educational experiences to help prepare community college students for careers in biotechnology. Project partners include Skyline Community College, Laney Community College, regional high school science teachers, and a nonprofit community partner, Bay Area Bioscience Education Community. The project will provide community college students with skills-based job training by involving them in preparation, quality testing, and packaging of low-cost biotechnology materials for use in high school biology courses. Examples of these materials include solutions and mixtures that are commonly used in processes such as DNA analysis in both biotechnology and biological research. As they prepare these educational materials for use in high school classes, community college students learn industry bio-manufacturing procedures and quality control processes. Production of these materials via community college biotechnology classrooms will result in savings that will be passed on, helping high school teachers to more readily provide biotechnology educational experiences in their high school science classrooms. Through these efforts, the project aims to make biotechnology science education materials more affordable to high schools and provide community college students with work-based learning experiences that prepare them for jobs as skilled biotechnicians.
Building on prior work that developed a successful plan to recruit high school students into community college biotechnology programs, this project aims to: 1) Expand and improve the pilot program by building upon past success and lessons learned; 2) Create stronger linkages and educational pathways between high schools and community colleges; 3) Provide professional development for faculty and collaborate with high schools to co-develop a new high school biotechnology curriculum; and 4) Scale the project regionally, engage industry in partnerships, and incorporate long-term sustainability measures. If successful, the project will provide a workable and scalable template for sustainable technician education that incorporates best practices across multiple sectors and institutions. In providing pathways to careers in biotechnology, the project has included approaches intended to ensure that all students have equitable access to participate. An important feature of the project is its plan to expand into introductory high school science courses that are required for all students. Such an expansion will enable them to reach all students, not just those who self-select into biotechnology electives. This approach is likely to help the nation to develop a more diverse pipeline of employees into the highly skilled technician 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.