ACC awarded national grant to build regional biotech workforce

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Austin Community College $2.9 million to establish a regional center for biotechnology technicians.

As one of two colleges nationwide awarded the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education grant, ACC will serve as a resource to Texas’ biotechnology workforce needs:

  • Increasing the number and diversity of well-trained technicians in the workforce.
  • Meeting the growing needs of a continually evolving and diversifying industry for appropriately trained technicians.
  • Institutionalizing community college education practices that make high-quality education and training in the concepts, tools, skills processes, regulatory structure, and ethics of biotechnology available to all students.

“Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry in Central Texas and across the nation,” says Linnea Fletcher, ACC biotechnology department chair. “Our goal is to establish best practices and share resources such as curriculum, equipment, and teaching methods with other community colleges and universities across the state.”

The AC2 Bio-Link Regional Center establishes direct pipelines into the industry with entry-level certificates for high school and college students.

As part of its funding, ACC also will build Contract Service Organizations (CSO) to pair industry projects with student internships and faculty externships and develop statewide articulation agreements among educational institutions including Collin College, Del Mar College, and Bluegrass Community and Technical College, to increase degree completion.

“We’re developing the workforce that will meet the growing biotech demands from regulatory affairs, and stem cell maintenance to biotechnology-related renewable energy technology and biopharming,” says Fletcher.

The AC2 Bio-Link Regional Center is a facet of the Bio-Link Next Generation National Advanced Technological Education Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences whose mission is to strengthen and expand biotechnology technician education at two-year colleges throughout the nation.

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