When Andrew Brown lost his job as a register technician for a grocery chain, he admits he was unsure what to do with his life.
Then he heard Diana Spencer, assistant professor and coordinator of biotechnology at Tulsa Community College, talk about the school's biotechnology program.
“I knew I had found a home,” said Brown, who is on track to complete a biotechnology certificate and associate's degrees in applied science and science from Tulsa Community College later this year.
We've been discussing the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, and Oklahoma's community colleges have much to contribute. Tulsa Community College (TCC) and Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) play an integral role in building our state's skilled bioscience workforce through intensive, hands-on programs that equip graduates like Brown with the critical skills bioscience employers need.
Both colleges offer an associate degree in biotechnology that prepares individuals to work in laboratory and research settings, and a biotechnology certificate for those who already hold either an associate's or bachelor's degree in science and want to acquire biotechnology lab experience.
The OCCC program was created in 1998 in response to a report to state leaders that bioscience was an emerging industry for which a skilled workforce, from entry-level laboratory technicians to master's and doctoral degree scientists, was essential.
“OCCC jumped in and developed a program that would give students the most applicable skills necessary to function as technicians in the bioscience industry,” said Fabiola Janiak-Spens, the college's director of biotechnology and professor of biotechnology and chemistry.