Why Train Medical Device and Biomedical Engineering Technicians in Austin, Texas?
The Austin and Central Texas area has a large community of biomedical entrepreneurs building on the city’s dynamic and highly educated population and the strength of the University of Texas Science and Engineering Schools. It is expected that the number of health-related technology companies will substantially grow due to the new Austin Dell Medical School (expected to open in 2016), and the expected commercialization of translational development resulting from the synergy of the medical and engineering schools. Currently, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce lists nearly 200 life science-related companies, with more than 10000 employees, and about 40% of these companies are working in the medical device and diagnostics area.
Why Train Technicians at Austin Community College?
Austin Community College (ACC) has a long history of training the workforce for a large variety of medically related professions. The role of Community Colleges will expand as national and state political initiatives aim to build new workforce pathways. Recently ACC has trained biotechnology technicians, a program which has been highly successful in placing graduates in the local biotechnology industry. That effort is part of an NSF Advanced Technology Education Center of Excellence (Bio-link).It is also integrated into a national effort by community colleges – including ACC – and the US Department of Labor to strengthen and standardize medical technology education at the community level through cross-fertilization and curriculum synchronization (Community College Consortium for Bioscience Credentials – C3BC). This national effort is focused on biotechnology, medical labs, and medical device education.
Nationally Developed Core Skills
The nationally developed core skills will shape the framework for the curriculum in medical device technology at ACC. More on the national skill standards can be found here.
In short, they comprise:
- Work safety
- Understanding and compliance with safety standards at the company and regulatory level.
- Routine Support
- Training in equipment use and trouble shooting techniques.
- Techniques of protocol use, data collection and analysis.
- Management and Communication
- Strategies on writing and revising technical documents and data presentation
- Mathematical training
- Data manipulation and fundamentals of statistical analysis.
- Understanding compliance with regulations and procedures mandated for the medical industry.
Based on the current strength and expected growth of the medical device industry in the Central Texas area, ACC sees the need to complement the medical training of the new medical school and the R&D training of UT, with a BME and medical device training pathway at the technician level by offering Associate degrees and post baccalaureate certificates.
The Physics and Biotechnology departments at ACC plan to offer degrees targeted for graduates to fill support positions in biomedical device rapid prototyping, process control and production, and compliance. At the Associates Degree level, these programs will build the foundation for a general understanding of math, physics and cellular and molecular biology, and a specific understanding of the medical device development and fabrication under specific consideration of the medical device regulatory environment.
The training then would go into depth in areas such as CAD design, 3D printing, mechanical or electronic drafting, biotechnology, materials design, or similar areas. Several of the focal areas will also be offered as separate certificates.