Employment in the biotechnology industry offers good benefits, job satisfaction, and opportunities for advancement. Despite these advantages, the lack of knowledge on the part of students and teachers concerning biotech careers has made it difficult to recruit students to enroll in biotech education programs. This project will add features and services to the website, Biotech-Careers.org, which currently serves to inform students about the types of job opportunities in biotech, to identify where biotechnology students have been hired, and to help biotech education programs learn what companies are doing in their local areas. The site contains descriptions of careers in biotech companies, stories and photos from graduates of two-year programs, and a database of biotech-related employers tagged by their business area. Additions to the site will enable it to improve student awareness of the different types of job opportunities in biotechnology and help them learn where they can find college programs that can prepare them for these different types of biotech careers. To complement these services, the project team will also identify and recruit faculty who are committed to being part of a distributed national leadership council to promote improvements in biotechnology education.
The project will pursue two primary objectives. First, the project team will introduce capabilities to Biotech-Careers.org that help improve students' knowledge of opportunities in biotech and ability to find employment. Second, the principal investigators will improve and sustain the digital infrastructure connecting the biotech-education online community. Through these efforts, students will be provided with new tools for identifying and planning their career objectives and locating educational programs that can prepare them for biotech careers. These resources will include better descriptions of career pathways, better links to community college biotech programs, more information about where students are getting hired, and new tools designed to help students overcome barriers when applying for jobs. The directory and database of community college and high school biotech programs at a companion site, Bio-Link.org, will also be improved and will continue to serve as a tool for assessing biotech education on a national level. The broader impacts of this project will be to increase the number and diversity of appropriately educated students entering biotechnology and bioscience careers.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.