Forsyth Technical Community College has won a $579,961 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education-Advanced Technological Education, to define the workforce skills technicians will need for manufacturing jobs where biomedical devices intersect with tissue engineering. To see the grant, click here.

Skills for Biomedical Emerging Technology Applications (BETA Skills) will run through the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce at Forsyth Tech. The three-year project will begin July 1.

“We use the phrase ‘on the body or in the body’ as a simple definition of the types of high-tech combination devices either in production, in development, or still in the future, that this project will address,” said Russ Read, executive director of the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce and Principal Investigator for the BETA Skills grant.

Read will work with co-principal investigators at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Minnesota, and College of the Canyons in California. Including North Carolina, the four states account for about 25 percent of the employment nationwide across all biosciences industry subsectors and 32 percent of jobs in medical devices and equipment.

“With the development of combination devices, sensors, photonics, and implantable systems, employers will need technician-specialists who understand more than classical biological and chemical sciences and traditional engineering,” Read said.

Emerging technician-specialists will also need to understand fundamental principles of electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, optics, photonics, and process-control/quality assurance.

“Working across geographic regions will help create a national platform for defining, providing instruction, and promoting technician careers around new specialized skills,” Read said.

The BETA Skills project will include annual meetings at Forsyth Tech including representatives from community colleges, employers, trade organizations, industry groups, researchers and other stakeholders. The project will deliver new, industry-driven skill standards that build on the work Read led for Forsyth Tech under a $15 million Department of Labor grant that ended in 2016. Other project deliverables will include new credit-bearing and non-credit courses, certificates and an online database with information about emerging employment and educational opportunities.

“The BETA Skills project represents an important strategic partnership in biotechnology and biomedical device education,” said President of Forsyth Tech, Gary Green. “Forsyth Tech is proud to lead this important nation collaboration of community colleges with support from the National Science Foundation.”

BETA Skills is the second NSF project through the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce at Forsyth Tech for which Read is principal investigator. The first is the Bioscience Industry Fellowship Project, which will hold its fifth summer program for community college instructors in June.

About Forsyth Tech

Forsyth Technical Community College provides students with guided educational pathways into a competitive workforce for the community and global economy. The college offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in more than 200 programs of study, including programs that promote personal and professional development through non-credit courses and seminars, as well as customized training for business and industry. Forsyth Tech is the seventh largest community college in North Carolina and serves more than 35,000 students with approximately 1,500 full and part-time faculty and staff.

About the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce (NCBW)

The National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce (NCBW) has strong ties to national bioscience workforce development back to 2005. It has led several federally funded bioscience workforce initiatives. The NCBW work focuses on capacity building, best practice and skills standard generation. The National Center for Biotechnology Workforce is part of the Economic Development Workforce of

Forsyth Technical Community College. The laboratory is open to qualified tenants as well as educational instructors and grant partners. For more information, see