In July, STEMconnector and BioMADE teamed up to host an Innovation Lab at the College of San Mateo. The workshop was designed to foster new collaborations and partnerships, and support a robust and resilient bioindustrial manufacturing workforce.
The goals were to:
- Build new connections with stakeholders across the bioindustrial manufacturing landscape;
- Engage in interactive programming to cultivate insights and perspectives about the bioindustrial education and workforce development (EWD) ecosystem;
- Explore the BioMADE environmental scan developed by STEMconnector
- Contribute to workshop proceedings that will inform BioMADE’s EWD efforts
Prior to the lab, participants were invited to a site visit at Mission Barns to build awareness of innovations and career paths and a networking reception, where students presented flash talks pertaining to their educational experiences.
The lab activities included interactive panel presentations and table discussions that focused on addressing gaps in the bioindustrial manufacturing ecosystem. Participants represented the bioindustrial manufacturing industry, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, high school and college students, and government agencies.
Guest speakers included:
- Kevin Yates, a doctoral student from UC Davis, presented his work with NASA that explores the development of lettuce with bone-density enhancing nutrients to support astronauts in space.
- Andrea Vizenor, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Economic Development at College of San Mateo, welcomed attendees to the campus. She has an extensive commitment to leading institutional change that advances increased success of disproportionately impacted students and continually strives to enhance the cultural competency and fluency of herself and her team.
- Steve Evans, Senior Technical Fellow at BioMADE and former Chief Technology Officer, presented a video on BioMADE’s goals and needs. His career has spanned over 30 years, bringing biotechnology products from the lab to the field in small and large companies, contributing to the discovery, development, and commercialization pipelines.
- Chris Deckard, a Senior Scientist, Department of Defense Support, presented on the advanced technologies within the biomanufacturing industry and described the DoD’s goals and needs.
- Cindy Ziker, Ph.D., M.P.H., Head of Research at STEMconnector, presented preliminary findings from STEMconnector’s environmental scan project entitled “Opportunities and Challenges in Bioindustrial Manufacturing: An Environmental Scan of Workforce Development in the Industry.”
The first panel discussion of the day, entitled: Proposed Solutions to Support Employer and Education Engagement was moderated by Ted Wells and included Rocky Ng, a biotechnology teacher at South San Francisco High School, Drew Glassford of the Boys and Girls Club of Dundee Township in Illinois, and Dolorez Dumas, Recruiter/Early Talent Solutions Lead at Twist Biosciences.
Kaitlyn Duvall, a Research Assistant at the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC), gave a lunch presentation on the Climate and Sustainability Roadmap project. Kaitlyn is currently providing support on a variety of projects.
Keynote speaker Ken Alex, Director, Project Climate at the University of California Berkeley and an expert in the climate and regulation space, presented on the current policies impacting sustainability.
The second panel of the day, Proposed Solutions to Build Awareness of Workforce Needs for Bioindustrial Manufacturing, was moderated by Dr. Ziker and included Angela Consani, CEO and Co-Founder, Bioscience Core Skills Institute, Dr. Nick Kapp, professor at Skyline Community College, and Dr. Karen McDonald, professor at University of California Davis.
Participants were invited to try out a pilot version of a Bioindustrial Manufacturing Gap Analysis Tool that targets the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to develop an industry-ready workforce. Data was gathered from respondents during the in-person event and follow-up emails were sent out with the link and requests for feedback. Additional data will be collected to inform revisions and improve the tool.