NHCTC gets $1 million grant for biomanufacturing training

New Hampshire Community Technical College Manchester/Stratham will be receiving a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to enhance biomanufacturing training in the Northeast – one of only five colleges in the country to be chosen for the program.

The college will be sharing in a $5 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to implement a national system to support biotechnology workforce development. The grant, announced by U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, is part of a $17.2 million national effort developed under the president’s High Growth Job Training Initiative to address workforce challenges facing the biotech industry.

The college will house the new program at its Pease International Tradeport campus. NHCTC’s nationally recognized biotechnology program was created in 1994 under the direction of Dr. Sonia Wallman with a National Science Foundation/Advanced Technological Education grant, and graduated its first students in 1995.

Under the grant, each of the five community colleges, considered biotechnology “centers of excellence,” will focus on a specific area of biotech training.

With their diverse locations, the collegiate partners will bring distinctive contributions to five major regions of the country. Together, the educational partners will make in-kind contributions totaling nearly $7.5 million, officials said.

The Pease training center mirrors a vertically integrated biotech company, and includes a wet lab for manipulating DNA, RNA and protein; a biomanufacturing suite for cell culture and purification, and quality control and assurance; and a biotech core facility that can be used for biomanufacturing production support.

NHCTC will use part of the money to develop a first-in-the-nation Biomanufac-turing Industry Apprenticeship Program, where NHCTC biotechnology students will work with sponsoring companies throughout their associate degree work. The grant also will support scholarships for students, and cover half the cost of students’ three-month apprenticeships in biomanufacturing companies.

Wallman said the money will go toward expansion of the college’s biomanufacturing training, including adding faculty and equipment.

Another addition to the college will be an internship program for graduated high school seniors who are entering the workforce or looking at colleges. Wallman said the grant will fund approximately six students this year, with an additional 24 internship positions next fall.

The college is also looking to grow its advanced short courses for workers already in the industry, allowing workers to keep up with industry standards.

Four other partnering community colleges, considered biotechnology “centers of excellence,” will also be receiving funds to bolster specific areas of biotech training across the nation.

Forsyth Technical Community College in North Carolina will focus on biotech research and development in the Southeast; Indian Hills Community College in Iowa will emphasize agriculture and food processing in the Midwest; Bellevue Community College in Washington will provide training in bioinformatics in the Northwest, and MiraCosta Community College in San Diego will highlight bioprocessing in the Southwest.

For more information about enrolling in NHCTC’s biotechnology program, call Wallman at 334-6306, ext. 23.

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