BIMS

Tag: cisco college

Off-Ramps on the Biotech Freeway

by gwilson on Sep.14, 2012, under A Day in the Life...

offramp2One great thing about our interstate highway system and the growing number of tollways and freeways is that they feature limited access.  It is easy to keep the wheels rolling forward when cross traffic cannot interfere with your progress. Instead of the stop-and-go interruption of traffic control signals, a plan was devised to allow overpasses to support cross traffic and on- and off-ramps to allow entrance and exit from side roads.

In some ways, education works in the same way.  We begin with an entrance ramp into an educational program in high school or junior college or a university or graduate school, and the completion of one program provides the exit ramp from that course of study.  For instance, my undergraduate degree was not in science, but I was able to enter the “science freeway” as a graduate student and complete my masters and doctorate in microbiology.  Others I know completed a science undergraduate degree and then left science to pursue graduate work in law, communication, and even “dean of students” type stuff.  Suffice it to say that a healthy educational program possesses flexibility in entering and exiting at various endpoints along the way.

I mention this because McMurry’s BIMS program is always looking for articulation agreements with other programs.  Notable examples are our Dental Early Admission Program (DEAP 3+4) with UTHSC-San Antonio Dental School (which allows a BS in BIMS and DDS degree in seven years), and similar programs with Hardin-Simmons School of Physical Therapy for the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and Texas Chiropractic College for the Doctor of Chiropractic degree.  Others with a variety of additional professional programs are in the works, giving McMurry’s BIMS students quick entry and preferred admission for programs in various medical fields.  This, in and of itself, gives students choosing McMurry a huge advantage over those attending other colleges!

But the most interesting articulation program may be the one in development for biotech education in Abilene, and this truly puts the freeway exit ramp example above in proper perspective.  Cisco College is a two-year community college with campuses in Cisco, Texas, and Abilene.  They offer a certificate program in Biotech that is even newer than the BIMS program.  Its first “graduates” are about ready for the workforce and further education.  McMurry is developing an agreement that will allow some of the training they have received to count toward hours in the BIMS program.  As Cisco moves toward an Associates Program in the field, we will work to make an easy transition into our BS in Biomedical Science program so that those so inclined can work toward a BS in BIMS.  Such a step would mean higher pay, more responsibility, greater opportunity for advancement.  Abilene’s growing biotech industry will be but one of the beneficiaries.  At the same time, a MS in Biotech program offered by Texas Tech is also coming to Abilene.  McMurry will work with TTU to develop an articulation allowing our students quick and easy entry into their program.  Who knows – maybe a PhD in the field will be coming before long!

So, students interested in biotech, forensic science, or any of the other fields that rely heavily on molecular biology, microbiology, and genetics can come to Abilene and get on the Biotech Freeway.  There will be exits at the certificate, associates, bachelors, and masters (and perhaps doctoral) levels of preparation to take them onto side roads important to their future.  McMurry becomes the key connection between entry-level workers and biotech managers and entrepreneurs.  We are excited to get on that freeway!

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Will you be my neighbor?

by gwilson on Sep.11, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

old hoodMr. 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.

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Biotech Update

by gwilson on Jul.19, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

dsc04Week 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.

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