Note from BioKansas: One of our primary functions at BioKansas is to act as a connector between industry and education. To this end, we work to align the curriculum of our educators with the evolving needs of our members. There are many efforts across the region to teach, adequately train and develop the future workforce for our industry, but most of those programs are focused on training the scientists or technicians. We think MATC has identified a true area of need with their training and certification programs outlined below, which target those whose job it is to service and maintain the laboratories, clean rooms and other critical facilities of our members. We think this is a great example of surveying industry, identifying a talent gap, and then quickly developing a program to address that gap. For more information on this program or how it was developed in conjunction with industry input, please contact Barb Wenger, MATC Director of Bioscience, who contributed the piece below.
Since 2016, Manhattan Area Technical College (MATC) has been working to create a flexible Biohazardous Risk Reduction training for non-science workers in high containment environments. As the future National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) campus and the Animal Health Corridor bring more biotechnology companies to the Kansas-Missouri area, the need for construction and mechanical workers for these high containment facilities is growing. At the same time, the highly specialized environments necessary for biohazardous work create an inevitable gap in industry safety procedures designed to address a wider range of buildings. Thus, increased employment opportunities bring with them a growing need for risk reduction and safety training for high containment personnel. As a recipient of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s NBAF Think & Do Challenge, MATC has designed a Biohazardous Risk Reduction training option to provide safety skills training for Operations & Maintenance technicians, contractors, and others who work in and around critical environments. The goal of this training is to minimize workers’ exposure to occupational injuries and deadly pathogens by developing safety skills and raising awareness of potential hazards.
“From the beginning it has been our intent to make certain we understand the needs and standards of NBAF so that we can offer training within their required guidelines,” said Barbara Wenger, MATC Director of Bioscience.
MATC recently piloted two successful Biohazardous Risk Reduction Training sessions and hopes to begin offering the course to the public on a regular and recurring basis.
The next step for MATC is to develop its Critical Environments Facility Technician training program. This program, built on an HVAC foundation will enable current facility technicians to use their trade skills within critical environments such as cleanrooms, data centers as well as BSL3-BSL4 facilities. “MATC has been a terrific partner to NBAF. Their work is helping us lean in to important operational planning”, said NBAF Operational Planning Manager, Timothy Burke.
“We recognized early on that there will be a host of partners in academia, private industry, and beyond who support NBAF. This further motivated us to develop the most relevant and impactful training possible,” said Wenger.
For more information on MATC’s Biohazardous Risk Reduction program or their Critical Environments Facility Technician training program, please contact Barb Wenger or visit http://www.manhattantech.edu/cet/critical-environment-technologies.