Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology (Franklin Cummings Tech), the only two-year technical federally designated minority-serving institution in Boston, announced that the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has approved its new Associate Degree in Biotechnology and is now accepting applications for Fall 2024 enrollment. The new program will prepare graduates to secure in-demand, well-paying jobs and build fulfilling careers in the biotechnology industry through hands-on lab instruction and internship opportunities made possible through biotech industry partnerships. Further, the college will extend elements of its new biotech program into the Boston Public Schools, creating an educational pathway from middle school through college and ultimately into the skilled biotech workforce.
“Our new Associate Degree in Biotechnology exemplifies Franklin Cummings Tech’s agility to design programs that the current job market demands while providing career opportunities to the untapped talent living in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Aisha Francis, president & CEO of Franklin Cummings Tech. “Our biotech program is made exemplary through the partnerships we created with biotech leaders who, like us, want to see our graduates succeed in and contribute to the industry.”
A 2023 report by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation shows a more than 50% percent increase in life sciences jobs in Massachusetts over the past decade. The report also projected over 170,000 life science jobs in Massachusetts by 2032.
With the financial, technical, and job opportunity assistance through the partnerships with Gingko Bioworks, Moderna, Samuels & Associates, and the Mass Life Science Center, Franklin Cummings Tech will train students in biotechnology, biomanufacturing, clinical research, and bioengineering. Graduates will be prepared for roles including research associate, research technician, laboratory technician, manufacturing technician, medical technologist, and science writer. Ginkgo Bioworks will assist with curricula development and provide technical assistance in developing the future lab space where students will receive lab training. The program will include two paid internships in collaboration with Life Science Cares. Additionally, Samuels & Associates (S&A) is establishing a $ 1 million scholarship fund and related programming to expand students’ access to life sciences career paths. Massachusetts Life Sciences Center provided a $750,000 grant for lab equipment, and the City of Boston has generously provided a $350,000 development grant for the program.
“Our Associate Degree in Biotechnology will do much more than produce entry-level lab workers,” said Heather S. Duffy, JD PhD, Chair of Biotechnology at Franklin Cummings Tech. “Through lectures, hands-on lab experience, and internships with leading biotech companies, it will prepare our graduates to think like scientists, apply scientific methods, and analyze data, all of which provides them with the ability to develop a prosperous, fulfilling, and life-long career in the life science industry where they are needed and inch they can thrive.”
The Associate Degree in Biotechnology program will ultimately be housed at the Nubian Square Life Science Training Center in the Nubian Square Ascends project, which is planned to be built on a parcel neighboring Franklin Cummings Tech’s future Roxbury home at the corner of Harrison Ave and Eustis Street.
Understanding the need to engage and encourage middle and high-school-age students to pursue STEM learning that will prepare them for careers in the life sciences, Franklin Cummings Tech has established partnerships with Dearborn STEM Academy, the Jeremiah E. Burke School, and the New Mission School. Students from these schools can participate in summer “biotech boot camps” and early college programs to prepare them for further education that will build life science job skills.
“The pathway to fulfilling careers in life sciences needs to start in middle school, continue into high school, and then be formalized in higher education, which is why Franklin Cummings Tech is working with Boston’s STEM-based public schools to provide STEM-based programs that build the foundation for further learning,” said Dr. Duffy. “We can build the skilled workforce our economy needs and create career opportunities by encouraging young people with a passion for science to pursue STEM learning and helping them see a future in which they are thriving in and contributing to Massachusetts’s important biotech industry.”