Austin Community College
The Biotechnology Program at Austin Community College works with the local bioscience industry to educate students in basic laboratory skills, math skills, genetic engineering, protein purification, cell culture, quality assurance and quality control principles, regulations, bioinformatics, computer skills, ethics, documentation, and teamwork. Students are educated to work in a variety of positions that span different kinds of companies including Pharmaceutical, Molecular Diagnostics, Manufacturing, Research and Cancer Research, Fisheries and Wildlife and Cell Culture. The State of Texas has adopted the Washington Skill Standards for Biotechnology. The Austin Community College Biotechnology Program was the 1st program in the state to formally adopt these standards and receive program recognition from the Texas Skill Standards Board.
The ACC Biotechnology Program provides a 2-year Associates of Applied Science (AAS) degree and an Advanced Certificate for students with a 4-year degree. The program has just been approved to offer a level 2 certificate in biomanufacturing. The certificate will be offered starting Fall 2013. The Certificate provides students the basic skills for a biomanufacturing job. The AAS degree provides students the more advanced skills necessary to be a biotechnician as well as the courses for transfer to a university such as Texas A&M, Texas State University-San Marcos or Stephen F. Austin State University. The Advanced Technical Certificate educates post-baccalaureate students to work at the bench and is composed solely of biotechnology courses. Students can also take the biotechnology courses through the Continuing Education Program.
At the end of the program, all of the biotechnology students are required to do an internship in industry. Ninety-five percent of these students are hired during their internship with starting salaries ranging from 30k to 45K. Most Biotechnology jobs are salaried first shift work with benefits.
The Biotechnology Program has a separate preparation room, cell culture, and storage room at both facilities and a shared lecture and instrumentation room. Students are taught on equipment that will use industry such as Real-Time PCR Machines, HPLC’s, FPLC’s, GC’s, Laminar Flow Hood’s, Inverted & Fluorescent Scopes, Bioreactors and Fermentors, Nanodrop Spectrophotometers and Bioanalyzers.
Faculty requires a minimum of a master’s degree in a molecular science. Full-time Faculty have doctorate degrees with research experience and experience in industry. Many of the adjunct faculty come from Industry with specializations in molecular biology, proteomics and cell culture.
Establishing Research Streams at Austin Community College
Student involvement in authentic research is touted as one of the best ways to get students engaged and committed to a career in a STEM field. However, it is only been lately that two-year schools have been using it as an education tool. And doing authentic research, as an educational tool is different than doing authentic research for the purpose of advancing science, its traditional role.
Authentic research as an educational tool means that the main goal is not discovery for new knowledge but engaging and educating students about the science and how discoveries are made. As such, this type of research needs to be structured differently that research for knowledge (ref CCURI)
In 2011 the Austin Community College (ACC) Environmental Science, Biotechnology and Biology Departments committed to joining the NSF funded Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) Type 3 grant directed by Finger Lakes Community College Biotechnology Program. The purpose of this award is to spread undergraduate research initiatives at community colleges across the country. To maximize the use of resources the three departments have agreed to develop research streams that overlap. Plus, Austin Community College has adopted the terminology, “research streams”, used by the University of Texas (UT) to describe its undergraduate research opportunities, as a long-term goal is to share streams across institutions so that ACC students can get involved in UT streams and UT students can get involved in ACC streams.
This is only the beginning……………
Vision and Change Implementation
Integrate Core Concepts and Competencies throughout the Curriculum
Introduce the scientific process to students early, and integrate it into all undergraduate biology courses
Relate abstract concepts in biology to real world examples on a regular basis, and make biology content relevant by presenting problems in a real life context
Stimulate the curiosity students have for learning about the natural world
Demonstrate both the passion scientists have for their discipline and their delight in sharing their understanding of the world with students
Focus on Student Centered Learning
Engage students as active participants, not passive recipients, in all undergraduate biology courses
Use multiple modes of instruction in addition to the traditional lecture
Introduce research experiences as an integral component of biology education for all students, regardless of their major
Integrate multiple forms of assessment to track student learning
Promote a Campus wide Commitment to Change
Mobilize all stakeholders, from students to administrators, to commit to improving the quality of undergraduate biology education
Support the development of a true community of scholars dedicated to advancing the life sciences and the science of teaching
Advocate for increased status, recognition, and rewards for innovation in teaching, student success, and other educational outcome
Engage the Biology Community in the Implementation of Change
Promote more concept oriented undergraduate biology courses, and help all students learn how to integrate facts into larger conceptual contexts
Provide all biology faculty with access to the teaching and learning research referenced throughout this report, and encourage its application when developing courses
Create active learning environments for all students, even those in first year biology courses
High Impact Practices Implementation
Common Intellectual Experiences
Collaborative Assignments and Projects
Service Learning, CommunityBased Learning
Capstone Courses and Projects