This week, we look at two innovative technical programs that are preparing students to make important contributions — to the health of their communities and to the health of the population.
In our first segment, we meet D-Jay Laffoon, a student at Cape Cod Community College’s environmental sciences program. D-Jay is currently enrolled in the program’s instrumentation class, which is keeping him outside collecting water samples for analysis.
“I think environmental technology is definitely a career with a future,” says D-Jay. “A lot of people are trying to be less fossil-fuel reliant, and I think renewable energy is the only way to go forward.” The college’s supportive environment, which includes free tutoring in math and other challenging subjects, is providing D-Jay with the confidence that he will come away from the program with a great future.
“In five years, I see myself in a nice [reliable] career instead of jumping from job to job. It’s a good experience and I’m having a real good time.”
In our second segment, students enrolled in the biomanufacturing program at Great Bay Community College are similarly excited — and appreciated. Through apprenticeships, also known as paid internships, at biopharmaceutical companies, these students are gaining the experience and confidence that comes with mastering complex scientific skills that will help lead to the development of life-saving drugs and medical products.
“Biotechnology is maturing all over the nation, as well as the globe, and that’s where lots of technician jobs are now being created,” explains Sonia Wallman, PhD, of the Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative. “The bioeconomy means that you’re able to use [genetically modified] cells to act as factories for your product.” The students at Great Bay are learning the scientific underpinnings that will turn proteins into marketable drugs. “They are learning to do the jobs that are found in a biomanufacturing facility, particularly in production and quality control,” adds Dr. Wallman.
The cutting-edge nature of the industry, coupled with the college’s apprenticeship program, is particularly energizing and inspiring. “[Our students] feel very powerful,” says Dr. Wallman. “They are doing stuff that no one else their age is able to do and it makes them feel really just like sports heroes. They’re appreciated for their knowledge.”
Rewarding careers in interesting fields are the end result of these and other ATE programs — there’s plenty of reasons for students to feel good about their futures.