WILLIAMSVILLE—Erie Community College is known for its student-focused approach in regional workforce development across a variety of career fields. But, throughout the week of July 22-26, ECC welcomed local high school and community college teachers eager to train their own students in one of Western New York’s growing career fields, biomanufacturing.
Held at the college’s North Campus, Protein is Cash: An Introduction to Biomanufacturing Teachers Workshop educated Buffalo-area STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) instructors on the components, capabilities and opportunities associated with biotechnology and biomanufacturing career fields set to grow 26% by 2016. Funded by Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative and Bio-Rad—and conducted by industry experts Sherri Andrews (Bio-Rad), Timothy Kull (Montgomery Community College), Bill Woodruff (Alamance Community College), and Kris Gorman (Erie Community College)—the training allowed for 35 hours of professional development for local educators who’ll be essential in training a generation for this burgeoning and complex manufacturing field.
“The teachers were able to learn career pathways and perform experiments with proteins, and then can take this knowledge back to their classrooms for the fall,” said Gorman, ECC’s Biomanufacturing Department Chair and the workshop’s chief host. “You don’t have to be a scientist to have a career in biomanufacturing.”
Biomanufacturing is a term that refers to the production, isolation and purification of medicines made by pharmaceutical companies. But, through ECC’s one-year certificate program curriculum, it also deals with advanced manufacturing principles and laboratory skills necessary for employment in food processing and medical device industries. Such program components informed workshops on a variety of protein production and purification experiments; protein product testing using quality control biochemistry; analysis of biofuels; an exploration of biomanufacturing career pathways; and a tour of Grand Island’s Life Technologies, a global biotechnology leader.
“ECC’s Biomanufacturing Certificate Program offers the training and skills needed for manufacturing technicians and laboratory technicians in the pharmaceutical and food processing industries,” said Gorman. “This training will help alleviate the current skills gap that exists in manufacturing in Western New York and offers graduates of the program several opportunities for employment.”
The target student population to be served by ECC’s Biomanufacturing Program and lessons of the Protein is Cash workshops are students who have an identified interest in science, laboratory skills and manufacturing practices, or are simply interested in entering an advanced manufacturing field after short-term, post-high school training. Competitive-salaried careers from this training include food processing technician, quality control inspector, and manufacturing associate.
Since 1946, Erie Community College has met the needs of a diverse student body while contributing to the economic vitality of Western New York. As a member of the state’s SUNY system, the three-campus college provides flexible, affordable and accessible educational programs in an accommodating academic environment. Equipped with the knowledge of these programs, ECC’s faculty, staff and students strive to enrich their host communities through skill, service and partnership.