BioPath Internship Program
The BioPath Internship Program provides high school students with a combination of theoretical training and hands-on floor work. Theoretical and practical activities cover Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) basics/concepts, a general understanding of science (basics of cell growth, protein chemistry, chemistry, mass transfer), operations basics (media and solution prep, cell expansion, bioreactor operation, filter operation, ultrafiltration operation, chromatography, liquid handling), and planned experiments. The program offers hourly compensation plus college credit through Shoreline Community College. The BioPath Internship Program includes on-the-job training and a potential full-time job offer upon high school graduation for qualified students who apply for full-time positions through our job portal.
Connections to Real World Learning Roadmap
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Real world learning consists of a continuum of opportunities ranging from exploratory to preparatory including: classroom visits by business/industry professionals (both in person or virtually), field trips, job shadows, internships, apprenticeships and worksite learning experiences. Real world learning also includes authentic and relevant experiences embedded in classroom curriculum and activities that help students understand the connections between content areas, their classroom, and the real world.
Our goal is that students are able to experience learning that helps them understand the connections between the skills and knowledge they are gaining in school and meaningful work in college, career, and beyond. Additional outcomes are focused on supporting the exposure and connection to a wide variety of career-based experiences for all students district-wide. This layered approach helps all students develop the knowledge and skills they need in the real world and imbues them with a sense of self-efficacy.
Implementation: How We Did It
The goal of this program is to allow students to gain a better understanding of career options connected to the biomedical and bioscience fields through participation in a highly-structured internship experience tied to clinical and theoretical practices with AGC Biologics. Students participating in the internship are paid and receive high school and college credit upon successful completion.
We collaborated with AGC Biologics, Shoreline Community College, and the Edmonds School District to create a uniquely structured learning opportunity that enables high school seniors to participate in paid internships under the Career Connect Washington criteria for applied real world learning.
Designing and implementing the program required ongoing collaboration, communication, and persistence. We started by identifying an industry in need of a pipeline for future employees. Then, we developed and agreed to a clear vision. We also needed the right people to reduce barriers in order to allow this unique opportunity to move forward in the best interest of our students.
We are developing the ongoing partnership process as the project progresses. Currently, there is not a set protocol, but we anticipate that as the project progresses, so will the establishment of roles and responsibilities.
Curriculum integration is supported through several of our current Career and Technical Education Courses: Anatomy and Physiology, Engineering, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Forensic Science, Health, Material Science, Human Body Systems, and Principles of Biomedical Science.
We measure the number of students impacted, which is greatly influenced by the number of students that the facility can accommodate, combined with the number of students interested in participating in the project. We anticipate that this project will serve as a model of what is possible for other business and industry partners to follow and learn from moving forward. The impact of this first round of student participants is likely to be far reaching and has the potential to create a ripple effect across the immediate area and possibly the region and/or state.
We ensure that schools and departments are able to access release days and paid meeting times after school to provide opportunities for collaboration and professional learning. For this project, our teachers leveraged resources and expertise from partners to facilitate professional development. Teachers used existing professional learning community structures to apply, reflect on, and iterate on their learning.
There were several stumbling blocks that existed in our current educational system. In terms of funding, we had to think about how student allocated FTE (the amount of state funding allocated to each school district based on student enrollment) would be handled. We also had to figure out how students would travel to the site and back. In addition, we had to determine how college credit would be handled, taking into account fees and certifications, where relevant.
There will continue to be obstacles for this project and others because our current education system has many regulations that create opportunity for change when working with business and industry. Further, it is difficult to get secondary and post-secondary to align with a common goal tied to business and industry. However, we are confident that this project will move forward with the right people at the table. The most important factor is that secondary, post-secondary, and business and industry understand the need for programs like this to exist and flourish. AGC Biologics has stepped up with full support to have students working at their facility side by side with industry professionals in an unprecedented, real-world internship experience.
The Future of this Work
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, AGC Biologics has offered virtual tours of their facilities to orient students and to assess student interest in potential participation in the internship project. AGC has also extended the enrollment deadline to this coming September/October to allow for students who were potentially impacted by COVID-19 and could not access the sign-up due to school closures.