From discovering pharmaceutical agents to combat health disorders, to developing vaccines to prevent diseases, to increasing yields of food production and more, the life sciences enterprise impacts each of our lives daily. Through advances in science and technology and educational ventures to produce well-qualified professionals who utilize those advances effectively, the life sciences industries contribute significantly to the strength of the United States economy and to the health of its citizenry. The bi-state region of Kansas and Missouri, with the Kansas City metropolitan area serving as a hub, is experiencing robust growth in the life sciences industries, as a reported 21% increase in employment occurred across the 240 life science companies in the region from 2009 to 2012. In response to workforce needs and the continual innovations in science and technology, Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) will develop the Kansas City Kansas Biomanufacturing Training Laboratory (KCKBTL). The KCKBTL will provide educational opportunities that lead to employment in the local life sciences workforce to residents of communities served by the college.
The KCKBTL will establish educational pathways that lead from high schools through institutions of higher education and ultimately into professional careers in the life sciences. Educational partners in this collaborative endeavor include KCKCC, the Kansas City Kansas Public Schools and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Project goals include: (1) working closely with representatives from the life sciences workforce to define and develop sequences of industry-validated courses that lead to a Certificate in Biomanufacturing or an Associate Degree in Bioscience to prepare KCKCC students for multiple entry points into careers in the local industry and (2) providing professional development opportunities for high school science teachers and community college faculty members in topical areas that facilitate technician education in the life sciences. KCKCC students will be placed into internships at local companies and in academic research laboratories at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Methods to evaluate project success and its impact include stakeholder interviews and focus groups, along with collecting data that monitors student success in the technician education programs and employment statistics for program graduates.