Summer Workshops Provide Hands-on Training for Careers in Biomanufacturing

FCoE- BITT (Florida Center of Excellence for Bimolecular Identification for Targeted Therapeutics) is hosting several workshops for incumbent workers, teachers and students this summer. Most recently, FCoE-BITT partnered with HCC and the University of Florida to host an industrial biotechnology workshop at HCC in Brandon. The workshop was held May 21, and served as an entry-level course for development of skills needed to function in today’s biotechnology industry. The workshop was directed by professors Debarati Ghosh, and Krista Noren-Santmyer, both part of the HCC Science Faculty.

Natasha Torres, a science and geology major at HCC said the workshop was helpful in “reinforcing the procedures carried out in the lab” and helped expand her knowledge of biotechnology. Course content covered a wide variety of topics, and integrated concepts in processes and facilities with quality compliance to simulate the work experience in a regulated environment. It also covered two tracks: Processes, Facilities and Regulatory Affairs; and Quality Assurance and Quality Control using a blend of on-line modules, classroom exercises, and wet-lab skills. Bilal Mando, another student at HCC, said the courses provided an in-depth picture of what one "can do” with the materials as opposed to merely learning it from a theoretical perspective. “It gave me an insight on future career opportunities should I decide to pursue a track in biotechnology.”

During the workshop, participants were divided into groups to work as a “company” to manufacture popcorn within a specified timeframe. BITT Project Manager, Jose Rey said “the objectives of the exercise were to understand the complexity of a Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) process, to identify departmental roles, gain appreciation for teamwork, communication, and cooperation between departments, and to introduce concepts of cGMPs in a context that is familiar to everyone.” Each company consisted of a material control, manufacturing, quality control and a quality assurance group. Course content/exercises were geared to match educational skills with organizational needs. Herbert Maysonet, a biotech student at HCC said “The workshop has provided me with a knowledge base, and an understanding of how my degree/skills can be utilized in a big manufacturing company.”

Indeed, the exercise was effective in showcasing the intricacies of various departmental structures and operations, and underlined the importance of paperwork/documentation. The production process was performed twice to give all students an opportunity to experience the roles and responsibilities of each department. Kevin Burn, a current biotech student at HCC said the workshop “highlighted the importance of some key marketable skills in the biotech field, and how transferable these skills are across different industries.”

In addition to the industrial biotechnology workshop, FLATE is partnering with Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative (NBC2) to offer another workshop for teachers. “Protein is Cash: An Introduction to Biomanufacturing” will provide hands-on activities and information for new advanced technology career paths in biomanufacturing, and will be held June 14-18 at HCC in Brandon. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE hopes the workshop will yield increased commitment from local high schools, community colleges, universities and bio-manufacturers to work together to develop local biomanufacturing workforce initiatives, and provide additional resources for teachers to introduce their students to exciting career opportunities in biomanufacturing. NBC2 is working with local universities to provide graduate credit for the workshop, and contribute to the development of the local infrastructure to support bio-manufacturing education and workforce training. “We hope these workshops will catalyze the development or expansion of the local education, training and workforce infrastructure to support biomanufacturers need for a local advanced technology workforce” Barger said.

For more information on the workshops visit http://www.fl-ate.org/projects/bitt.html, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.253.6578/barger@fl-ate.org.