Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund Grant Boosts COM Biotech Program

January 26th, 2016 - 12:00am

Preparing Students for STEM Careers with Hands-On Training in New Wet Lab

KENTFIELD, CA—College of Marin biotech students and employees in the workforce will soon have access to a new wet lab designed to simulate real-world environments thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund.

The capital grant allows the College to retrofit and restore a state-of-the-art, multi-functional biotechnology laboratory at the Indian Valley Campus in Novato.

“This generous Haas grant helps the College prepare students for the highly competitive, higher-paying jobs that are available in the community now,” says Superintendent/President David Wain Coon.

The new facility will serve a growing core of biotech students on the Indian Valley Campus as well as high school students seeking specific career skill sets in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. The lab will also serve employees pursuing specialized training to advance their careers in local medical and biotechnology companies.

The College has worked closely with industry partners to develop a series of new certificate programs to graduate students that fill the increasing demand.

“These are just the kind of jobs that help our students participate successfully in the regional biotech corridor,” Coon says.

Local biotech and bioscience companies are flourishing, providing some of the fastest growing job opportunities for middle-skill jobs in Marin and the North Bay. Dean of Career and Technical Education Elizabeth (Beth) Pratt explained that for these jobs, students need backgrounds in biology and chemistry and a solid understanding of best practices in the lab.

“This funding is so important because it helps us shrink the current gap for employers,” Pratt says. “We will be able to provide excellent training for lab assistants, lab technicians, scientists and research assistants.”

The grant also complements ongoing efforts to align career pathways that help K-12 students prepare for and move through the community college curriculum and succeed in the workforce or at four-year colleges.

One new partnership brings San Marin High School students to the Indian Valley Campus to enhance their biology and chemistry skills.

“This funding is really critical because of the timing,” Pratt said. “It will allow us to really jump into the first phase of biotech classes and make a difference in what we hope will be a number of students getting the skills that they need to get some high paying jobs.”