The Austin Community College board of trustees voted Monday to bring a medical device specialization program to the district next fall. The program will train technicians to help engineers in designing and fabricating medical devices.
What does the curriculum look like?
The Associate of Applied Science in Manufacturing Technology-Medical Device Specialization degree will consist of 60 credit hours, or four semesters, and will be run primarily through the electronics department, with support from the biotechnology and engineering departments.
In pursuing the degree, students will also receive an advanced level 1 and level 2 technical certificate in medical devices technology, which will allow them to work as entry-level medical device technicians.
Students will take such traditional classes as algebra, applied physics, technical drafting and biotechnology as well as new classes such as introduction to medical devices, introduction to 3D fabrication, instrumentation and data analysis, and advanced medical devices.
Students will also undergo an undergraduate research project, and internship opportunities will be available.
ACC expects to have a 24-student cohort each year. The program will be located at the Riverside and Highland campuses.
What’s the workforce need?
The Texas Workforce Commission estimates there are several hundred Texas-based companies in the medical device industry and projects a strong growth in the life-science industry in the next 10 years.
The TWC’s forecast shows biological technician jobs, medical appliance technician jobs, medical and clinical laboratory technician jobs and biomedical engineering technician jobs will continue to grow over the next 10 years.
Nationally, the U.S. remains the largest medical device market in the world, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Austin is home to several medical device companies, including Asuragen, a molecular diagnostics company; Smith-Nephew, which manufactures surgical devices for orthopedic reconstruction and sports medicine; and Inova Labs, which specializes in developing devices for people with respiratory conditions.
How much does the program cost?
ACC received a nearly $500,000 Wagner-Peyser grant from the TWC for the Bio-Medical Device Education and Training Program of the Central Texas Workforce Project, which helps fund curriculum development and lab equipment.
About $212,000 of the grant will go toward program startup and equipment costs, and the rest will go toward developing the curriculum, paying faculty members and other personnel costs.
ACC Vice President Mike Midgley said he hopes the program will eventually grow into a manufacturing technology department.
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