Christopher Cool, a biotechnology student at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC), is one of seven students selected nationally to receive a fellowship to participate in a National Science Foundation (NSF) conference in Washington, DC, next month. Cool will attend the Advancing Technician Education Principle Investigator’s Conference, which brings together approximately 850 people to focus on the critical issues related to advanced technological education. Cool, who’s the fifth student from BCTC selected to participate, will share his experience about the quality of BCTC’s biotechnology program with other students and principal investigators.
“This program has been exactly what I was looking for,” said Cool, who works for Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals. “Everything I do on my job was taught in one of the classes I took at BCTC.”
The NSF created the Advancing Technician Education program to improve and expand programs for technicians who work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The program is mandated by Congress and focuses on undergraduate and secondary school levels.
Biotechnology is the application of many scientific disciplines to the study of living organisms and the use of this information for commercial/practical applications. This includes new efficient energy sources, new pharmaceuticals, stable food sources and environmental protection and clean-up. BCTC awarded its first biotechnology degrees in 2012. Ninety-five percent of graduates found jobs within the industry or successfully transferred to a four-year institution. Students who complete coursework are qualified for entry-level employment in public or private laboratories for positions such as laboratory assistant, laboratory technician, laboratory testing or laboratory worker.