Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) will develop new competency-based, open-entry, open-exit program for their biotechnology credentials, complemented by an open lab during extended evening and weekend hours. This will allow SLCC to offer students and incumbent workers opportunities for flexible scheduling and accelerated program completion. The benefits to students will be reduced costs and enhanced well-being, especially for students who have families and jobs. Complementing the project is a targeted effort to recruit underserved populations. Working with the local biotechnology industry through an advisory board, the curriculum will be tailored to the needs of local employers to ensure it provides well-educated technicians for a growing industry.
As a result of this project, SLCC will develop new practices in competency-based, open-entry, open-exit instruction and delivery that increases student access to biotechnology education and helps them earn a credential. This flexibility will save students money and support family life. This project leverages an existing Title III grant from the Department of Education. The new curriculum will be informed by a DACUM process that involves input from local industry. This will ensure that it meets the evolving needs of Utah biotechnology companies, articulates with local baccalaureate degree program, and develops the student skills needed by industry. Through proactive mentoring and advising, use of student analytics, and project evaluation, this project will identify effective practices and potential pitfalls of competency-based education programs in technician education. Through dissemination via the ATE community, this project will become a model for other programs serving students with similar needs.