Tristan Strubhart, former ninth grade student at Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy, along with other students across Texas participated in BioFORCE, an experiential Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program of the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) at Texas A&M University.
Distributed across a three-year series of summer camps beginning in the ninth grade, BioFORCE is designed to offer high school students a unique learning opportunity on cutting-edge research, medical discoveries, and biomanufacturing. The program helps prepare students for college programs in engineering and science, and ultimately, to pursue a career in the biotech or pharmaceutical industries.
“I feel that I really benefited from the hands-on learning I received at BioFORCE,” said Strubhart. “We took part in collaborative activities involving bacterial transformation, gram staining, protein purification and monitored bacterial growth curve experiments, and toured research labs and pharmaceutical companies at Texas A&M and the Texas Medical Center. I now have a better idea of the challenges in the field.”
He also thanked his science teacher at Cano Freshman Academy, Margaret Hall, for recommending him to the BioFORCE program.
“I’m very grateful to Mrs. Hall for making me aware of this camp,” said Strubhart. “It’s now evident why collaboration is key in her classroom; she has modeled what it will be like to be part of a team in the workforce.”
BioFORCE was created in alliance with the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in an effort to motivate a conventionally underserved minority and female honor students to enter this expanding and high-demand workforce.
Upon completion of their high school careers, BioFORCE alumni will have been introduced to concepts and immersed in activities that will allow a seamless transition into two and four year degree and technical training programs focusing on biotechnology, therapeutics manufacturing, engineering, and biosciences.
BioFORCE receives applications from all across Texas. This year they had more than 160 applicants. The program will be administering a freshman and sophomore curriculum to nearly 100 students this summer. And beginning next summer, they will produce a full series of academies for three different cohorts per curriculum year, bringing the total to 150 Texas students (50 freshmen, 50 sophomore, and 50 junior).
The program has already seen some of their pilot-year students committing to higher education in biomedical engineering and sciences, and interning with pharmaceutical and biotech companies across the nation.
“As BioFORCE continues to funnel more students through the program, we can ensure that the state of Texas can address expanding workforce needs for its biocorridors, medical centers, and research and development institutes,” said Brook R. Schneider, Program Specialist II for NCTM. “Anticipated growth for these sectors – just in the Bryan-College Station area – in the next five-to-ten years is into the thousands of workers.”
BioFORCE began in the summer of 2012 with a mission to deliver a multi-generational workforce development programs to ensure a highly educated and continued workforce for the biotechnology industry of the state. NCTM collaborated with the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Summer Merit Program to fulfill the inaugural Therapeutics Manufacturing Summer Camp, which later became “BioFORCE”.
For more information on BioFORCE please visit the following page: http://nctm.tamu.edu/bioforce.html.