The San Francisco Bay Area has been called the "birthplace of biotechnology" and continues to dominate the international biotechnology industry with the largest concentration of biotechnology companies and employees in the world. Because biotechnology is a dynamic and evolving field, employers want well-rounded individuals with more than traditional technical skills. Skyline College proposes to build a strong biotechnology program that responds to new and emerging market forces and addresses the needs of the local community.
Initially, biotechnology faculty will collaborate with industry partners to design an entry- and mid-level Biotechnology Technician Certificate program. Additionally, a summer bridge program will be developed followed by development of the BioBridge program. The BioBridge project will attract students from groups under-represented in STEM fields and launch them on a pathway to further education and careers in biotechnology, while advancing the field of biotech education. The two-semester program will employ a cohort model; a curriculum that contextualizes and integrates science, math, English, and 21st century skills acquisition; project-based learning and teamwork experience in a lab environment; workplace soft skills instruction; work-based learning opportunities, and wraparound supports for students. It will be closely aligned with evolving trends and workforce needs of the immediate geographic region as well as the larger San Francisco Bay Area. In year one, Skyline and its partners will develop the BioBridge curriculum; obtain industry commitments for work-based learning opportunities; and recruit the first cohort of students from high schools in San Mateo County's South San Francisco school district. In years two and three, the program will be piloted with cohorts of 25 students. As the program will target and promote the success of students from groups underrepresented in STEM (specifically Latinos and women), it will increase their participation in post-secondary STEM education and careers and support the development of a diverse STEM workforce.