Salt Lake Community College houses a program that is all about innovation.
Biotechnology uses biological materials such as cells, DNA and proteins to test and develop creative new solutions in a variety of areas. SLCC is getting substantial support from the science community to ensure students gain the experience they need to land careers in a rapidly changing field.
“Students who have an associate’s degree [in biotechnology] are getting lab analyst, lab specialist or lab technician jobs,” says department chair Dr. Jean Bower.
For students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in the field, SLCC has teamed up with Utah Valley University to allow students to take UVU classes at the Jordan Campus to complete their degrees.
Learning by experimenting
SLCC students spend their time in class working on projects for companies that have contracted with the college to complete this research.
“Students in Innovabio are determining what materials osteoblasts (bone cells) grow on better,” Bower says. “This could replace a cracked vertebrae and [teach us] how we might make substitute human bones.”
Students have also worked on a project to sequence the genome of an archaeabacteria called Halorubrum Salsolis, which is found in the Great Salt Lake. While sequencing this genome students were testing if the archaea could possibly replace biofuels.
New money brings new opportunity
The SLCC biotech program recently received an $819,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. With this funding the program will convert from a semester-based to a competency-based program.
The new format will eliminate set class times; instead there will be an open lab where students can complete their coursework at a pace conforming to their own schedule. The changes are expected to take place in 2018.
Learn more about biotech
The biotechnology program invites all interested students to attend an open house on Thursday, Oct. 27 in the Health Sciences building at Jordan Campus.
Students who are looking for volunteer work in biotech can apply for an internship with Innovabio. Class registration is not required.