by MAX ERIKSON
At the April 9 Edmonds School Board meeting, a new student pilot program called Project BioPath, was recognized and celebrated for the success it is bringing to district students.
Six Edmonds School District (ESD) students are working as lab interns for AGC Biologics, a local bio-manufacturing company located in Bothell. The program is the first and only program in the state of Washington that offers paid internships to students in the field of bio-manufacturing. The program is partnered with Career Connect Washington (CCW). CCW a new state initiative that helps launch students into entry level careers in high demand fields in our region.
The goal of the program is to develop new talent in an industry that is facing a regional shortage of qualifi ed technicians and engineers in the field of biomanufacturing. The conversation for the program got started about a year ago by Meg O’Connor of Life Science Washington. She presented an idea to establish a program with the schools that focuses on bio-manufacturing.
Initially, the program was set to launch in the fall of 2019, but with hard work, setting aggressive timelines, and accelerated meeting schedules, the project started in February of this year resulting in a great success story.
ESD Director of Career and College Readiness for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, Mark Madison, says this is a great example of how to partner together to generate the talent that is needed for these career jobs.
“We really pushed hard to get this program started early so that the students had enough time to earn credits for this year,” Madison said. “This is something special that is forging new ground for the state of Washington.” AGC Biologics came to the schools and made presentations about the program. Students were encourage to apply for the program as if it were a really job. The students were selected on their aptitudes in the fields of chemistry and the sciences.
Those students were: Douglas McAnally of Lynnwood High School, Catherine Do of Meadowdale High School and Erica Lampers, Jaden Lofrese, Kaylee Hynek and Glaxton Joseph of Mountlake Terrace High School.
Student intern, Catherine Do, spoke at the meeting about some of her job duties. “We help with what the lab needs to make the processes go smoother,” Do said. “We work with purified proteins that are used in pharmaceutical drugs and help with process development.” Quality control is also part of the job duties and each student works about 12 hours a week.
Superintendent, Dr. Katherine McDuff y, says the district is committed to expanding student internships and work force experiences. “We are proud of our students for leading the way for Washington State, and proud of our partners we are working with,” McDuff y said.
All the students have been offered continuing internships through the summer and the goal by next year is to increase the number of students in the program to eighteen. Shoreline Community College is also committed to partnering with ESD to help students earn college credits in biomanufacturing courses. Currently, Life Science Washington has submitted grant proposals to Governor Jay Inslee’s office in hopes of finding continuing funding for the future of the program.