Archive for September, 2011

Show Off Your Transferable Skills

Friday, September 23rd, 2011


In this week’s episode, Jessie McCoy of Three Rivers Community College, talked about how students who are returning to college are adding to their already-existing skills. In fact, she had a term for it – up-skill. “You’re bringing new skills to skills you already own,” she explained. “You’re enhancing [what you already know.]”

You’re probably skilled in areas that you’ve never even thought about. Can you multi-task? Are you a careful organizer and bookkeeper? How about problem-solving or effectively communicating an idea – are those qualities where you excel?

These are all examples of “transferable skills,” and if you’re considering a change of careers, these are features that you’ll want to emphasize to a potential new employer. Transferable skills are the essential skills and qualities that are valuable in any employee – no matter what the specific job or industry.

The term was first used in the job-hunter’s bible, What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career Changers. The phrase refers to skills we take from job-to-job, which book author Richard Bolles Nelson originally broke into three broad categories: people skills (communicating, teaching, coaching, supervising), data skills (record keeping, researching, translating and compiling data), and a more amorphous category called “things” (operating computers/equipment, assembling and repairing).

And, if you’re planning a career change, it’s especially important that your resume reflect your transferable skills. There are several ways to do this.

According to the SC ATE National Resource Center, there are three popular formats used in preparing resumes. While the chronological resume (which lists work experience in reverse order) is the format that most people recognize, the other two types may be more effective at highlighting transferable skills – and therefore, may be a better choice if you’re changing careers.

A functional resume breaks out job skills by function, rather than dates of employment, providing the opportunity to emphasize transferable skills and particular abilities that you want to highlight. According to career website, showcasing transferable skills up front helps prospective employers see the key words they may be looking for. You could, for example, include a list of transferable skills within a “Qualifications Summary” near the top of your resume. (Example: “Highlights of my related skills include” followed by a bulleted list.) Your resume can then go on to offer examples of how you successfully used these skills in a list of Experience Highlights. ( recommends using the “CAR” — challenge, actions, results — approach: Briefly describe the challenges you faced followed by a brief description of the actions you took to overcome the challenges and another brief description of the results.)

Another alternative is the combination resume, which is a hybrid of the functional and chronological styles This format may be particularly suited to job hunters who have a solid work history in a different career area. By enabling you to emphasize particular skills, a combination resume can also be useful if you spent a significant amount of time in a workplace, and had diverse job responsibilities.

Whichever resume style you choose, the SC ATE National Resource Center reminds job hunters to always place their contact information at the top of the page, followed by their objective. And don’t forget to show off your transferable skills. As Jessie McCoy notes, “These are the skills you already own.”

A Wealth of Educational Opportunities in Biotech

Friday, September 16th, 2011


Nearly 25 years ago, the Biotechnology Project at Madison Area Technical College was one of the first Biotech programs to be created at a community college. “We’ve been around since 1987, so we actually have a fairly long history,” notes program instructor Lisa Seidman. “This program was started when Biotechnology was a very, very small industry, really at the beginning of the Biotechnology revolution. So we’ve been a part of it since the very beginning.”

Since then, the field of Biotechnology has exploded, as groundbreaking scientific discoveries and technological developments have emerged with unprecedented speed. And, Biotech training and education programs have kept pace. Today, more than 50 community colleges and technical schools around the United States offer degrees and certificates in various aspects of the Biotech industry according to Bio-Link, a national consortium and clearinghouse for technician education.

This week’s ATETV Episode sat in on a number of Biotech classes; we decided to continue the exploration and take a look at some of the degree and certificate programs available in the field of Biotech.

Biotechnology Associate Degrees prepare students to work in such areas as Biotechnology research and development. Emphasizing “hands-on” learning, these two-year programs help familiarize students with cutting-edge scientific techniques, technologies and equipment. Among other subjects, students typically gain a working knowledge of molecular biology, recombinant DNA, immunology, protein purification and tissue cultures, through both classroom lectures and laboratory learning experiences. Foundational courses in English, as well as a variety of math and science disciplines (i.e. algebra, statistics, chemistry, biology, microbiology and computer science) are also often part of the program.

There are two types of Associate Degrees. The first is the Associate of Applied Science degree (A.A.A.S. or A.A.S.) a professional technical degree designed to prepare students to directly enter the workforce. The second are Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees. These also prepare students for jobs, but focus more on course work that can be transferred to four-year institutions.

Check out Bio-Link, for a full list of the more than 50 schools around the country that offer Associate’s Degrees in Biotechnology.

Today, many community colleges have also developed Certificate Programs focusing on specialized aspects of Biotech. Certificate programs generally require fewer credits than Associate Degrees. At Madison Area Technical College, for example, a Bioinformatics Certificate delves into the specifics of Bioinformatics, the application of Information Technology to the management and analysis of biological data. This program helps students develop the expertise needed for employment as Bioinformatics programmers and Genomics technicians — both growing fields — and is designed for students who have already had some college experience in the life sciences. The program includes introductory courses in Bioinformatics and Genomics as well as programming; website development; relational database coding; and networking operations, among others.

Another specialized area of certification is Biomanufacturing/Bioprocessing. These programs prepare students for entry-level positions in Biomanufacturing facilities, where living cells or their components – bacteria or enzymes, for example – are used to manufacture products, such as biofuels and therapeutics. One example is the Bioprocess Technology Program at MiraCosta College, which according to a recent profile in Science Careers, offers courses that focus on laboratory skills, Bioprocess technology and the production and analysis of biofuels.

Another specialized Certificate Program related to the Biotech field is Clinical Research Professional (CRP) certification. CRPs perform human research studies on the effects of new drugs and medical devices to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new therapies for the treatment of human disease. CRPs work in both biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as medical research labs, government labs and contract research organizations.

Students in CRP Certificate Programs like the one at Oklahoma City Community College learn clinical research site procedures, governmental and local regulatory affairs methods, experimental design and statistics, and technical reading and writing skills focusing on clinical research applications, as well as Bioethics.

Heading in a different direction, specialized Biotech Certificates are also available for Environmental Laboratory Technologists. At Georgia’s Gwinnett Technical College, for example, the program, which is two quarters long, prepares students to work in laboratories associated with environmental management, notably drinking water purification, waste water management and pollution remediation facilities. Specific courses include Regulatory Compliance, Environmental Testing Methodology, Environmental Pollution and Remediation and Water and Wastewater Laboratory Methods.

You may not have considered that medical devices are also a key component of the Biotech Industry. Products that are used to diagnose medical conditions, aid in surgical procedures or used as part of a therapy, medical devices include everything from artificial hearts to genetic tests, to X-ray machines, blood-sugar meters and tongue depressors.

A Medical Devices Certificate, such as one offered by Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington (Indiana) familiarizes students with the regulatory principles that are used in medical-device manufacturing, and in addition to a Biotechnology curriculum, includes courses in Medical Terminology, Quality Systems in Manufacturing and Medical Device Design and CAD Fundamentals.

Bio-Link can provide you with still more information about Biotech certificate programs, such as those focusing on Quality Control at Bergen Community College, and Associate’s Degree programs like the Regulatory Affairs Associate’s Degree offered at Ivy Tech.

Geospatial Technologies Track Season’s Hurricanes

Thursday, September 8th, 2011


Last spring, we wrote about the many ways that Geospatial Technologies impact our daily lives – from navigating unfamiliar neighborhoods to tracking the world’s most wanted terrorist.

For residents of the East Coast, recent daily life has centered on Hurricane Irene, the giant storm that wreaked havoc from North Carolina to Northern New England. And, as we’ve seen, Geospatial Technologies have once again been key, aiding meteorologists in their storm assessments and helping to inform the public about the storm’s path and severity.

From the first signs of a storm’s formation, Global Positioning Systems track the path of a hurricane. The satellite systems carefully followed the storm’s progression, enabling viewers to track the hurricane’s route on a map, like this one featured on By making it easy to see the locations where the storm had previously hit and where it was expected to hit, these detailed maps gave travelers and local residents a heads-up on the storm’s path.

Meteorologists also rely on GPS for flood prediction, assessing water vapor content by analyzing transmissions of GPS data through the atmosphere. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricanes can lose strength if they take on large amounts of dry air. Conversely, if moisture conditions are favorable, a hurricane can rapidly gain strength. GPS systems can help in hurricane forecasting, measuring moisture by assessing the time it takes signals to reach and return from a GPS satellite far above the Earth.

And, after a hurricane or another natural disaster has struck, Geospatial Technologies play another important role. According to, GIS (Geographical Information Systems) are used in many phases of disaster management. GIS professionals can provide immediate assistance following a storm or other natural disaster by helping decision makers at the local, state and federal levels to understand the scope of the damage and identifying locations where people may be trapped or injured, or require medical support and rescue. notes that specific examples of how Geospatial Technology supports disaster relief include rapid identification of potential shelters (schools, libraries, churches, public buildings), identification of supplies and materials necessary for response and recovery, identification of locations suitable for staging areas and incident command posts to provide logistical support for public safety personnel.

Check out ATE’s GeoTech Center website to learn more about the technologies and the wide-ranging career and educational opportunities in the field of Geotech.

And don’t forget to stay on top of the latest storm track– as we write this, GPS systems from the U.S. National Hurricane Center have indicated that Hurricane Katia is moving west-northwest across the Atlantic with Tropical Storms Maria and Nate following closely behind!