Tag: biotech certification
Mr. Rogers was a children’s television icon who promoted peace and harmony and acceptance by bringing neighbors together. McMurry has a chance to be a good neighbor to a sister institution in Abilene. Cisco College, the local branch of our region’s most prominent community college, has received approval for their new biotech certification program. In Texas, that means approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. In the South, that means approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commision on Colleges. As the song goes, “the road is long, with many a winding turn…” But, now that the approvals are in it is time to put the flesh to the bones in the process of rolling out their program for a Fall 2010 start.
McMurry’s BIMS program has been the pacesetter in biotech education in Abilene and so is in the position to be the good neighbor in helping this new program gain traction. We are happy to do so, as growth in biotech education supports growth in biotech company relocation, and this in turn provides opportunities for our students from the Biomedical Science program.
Our initial support comes in two forms. First, we are donating some pieces of equipment to their program. The biohazard cabinet pictured above (stand not shown, some heavy lifting and assembly required!), a sequencing gel system, and several other pieces of equipment are waiting to be picked up by Cisco’s folks. As we continue to upgrade equipment we will try to place more unneeded but serviceable items in their hands. The second way we are helping is in exploring articulation options for their graduates into our BIMS program. The challenges are many, based on differences in the content and level of their courses and how they approximate courses in our program. We will do what we can to help provide an avenue for their graduates interested in continuing their education.
Being a good neighbor is always good practice. Treating others as we would want to be treated is in keeping with McMurry’s Christian tradition. That approach to what we do makes a McMurry BIMS education an exceptional experience for today’s students and tomorrow’s biotech professionals.
Last Thursday I met with the provost from Cisco College’s local campus, Richard Burdine from the Development Corporation of Abilene, and Jon Weidanz from TTU School of Pharmacy and the biotech firm Receptor Logic to discuss the new biotech certificate program recently approved for Cisco College. Our goal was to see how our individual entities could cooperate to help build a biotech workforce in Abilene sufficient to support the growing biotech industry here. Topics discussed were equipment needs and labspace for the new program, an articulation agreement between Cisco’s biotech certificate and McMurry’s biomedical science program, internship possibilities in town, and a general update on the infrastructure being developed for recruiting additional biotech companies.
So what was the outcome? I promised to take a quick inventory of unusued equipment at McMurry and see if we had some items that might be useful to them. For instance, I know we have a sequencing gel that is no longer needed because of our Li-COR DNA sequencer, and I know we have a biological safety cabinet that is no longer needed downstairs and appears to be unneeded upstairs either. There may be other items here and there we can add in from their list. Secondly, I’m in conversation with our faculty about how the Cisco courses fit with our offerings to develop an articulation agreement that will give Cisco’s certified biotech graduates a head-start on a four-year degree at McMurry. And, we’ve continued to solidify the BIMS program as the premiere program for producing bachelors’ prepared biotech employees.
Another meeting is set for next month – I’ll give a further update then.
Week before last I met with Dr. Jon Weidanz to discuss biotech issues in Abilene and ways our BIMS program can contribute to building a biotech workforce in west Texas. These meetings occur with relative frequency, as he and I share a vision for how McMurry BIMS students can become biotech leaders for America’s future.
Here are some things we see in Abilene’s future for biotech:
1. Growth in biotech education. Jon and I are working on ways to build a biotech-capable workforce in Abilene to support biotech growth. McMurry’s Biomedical Science students remain one of the most talked about resources for the future in this regard. The industry is hungry for BS in BIMS-prepared workers to hire at starting salaries of over $50K. Other avenues we hope to see fall into place soon:
- biotech opportunities for students in Abilene schools, particularly in the New Tech High School starting this fall.
- biotech certification programs at Cisco College, with an eye toward articulation with the BIMS program at McMurry.
- presence of a PhD in Pharmaceutical Science degree program through TTU’s School of Pharmacy in Abilene. There is an educational superhighway being developed to help provide skilled workers for biotech with exit ramps after high school, community college certification programs, four-year university degree programs, and graduate programs, all here in Abilene.
2. Growth in biotech opportunities. Jon and I discussed internships for students at Receptor Logic, and the myriad of other opportunities and developments on the horizon:
- growth in the equipment and infrastructure for research in Abilene, due to the Development Corporation of Abilene’s investment in the biotech accelerator facility set to open in December.
- the likelihood of more biotech firms arriving in town within the next year or so to join Receptor Logic in the accelerator and bring additional research and development and production to Abilene.
- formation of the Abilene Life Sciences Foundation to spearhead and coordinate local research efforts and to oversee the accelerator operations.
- ongoing support at McMurry for biotech program development. This summer several additional vital pieces of equipment are being purchased to grow the research capacity for BIMS program faculty and students, and to offer for use by others in the shared endeavor.
These developments confirm what we’ve known for a long time – the BIMS program was one that was needed and whose time had come. Our students will help write the pages of Abilene’s future.