UM BioPark Helps Launch New Careers in BioTech
|As graduates of the Biotechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI)
marched to ceremonial music, they were taking a remarkable step into a
career in Maryland's burgeoning biotech industry. One of them, Lucie Jones, had been unemployed for
two years. Now she feels like the sky's the limit.
"I do," says Jones. "I feel like the possibilities are endless
Jones was among two groups of BTI students sponsored under a $1.4
million federal workforce grant administered by the University
of Maryland BioPark and other partners. She and 46 other
students completed BTI's 12-week Lab Associates Program. Working with
partner companies at the BioPark the non-profit provides tuition-free
training and job placement services for entry-level biotechnicians,
like Deric Richardson.
"What can I say? My enthusiasm hasn't changed. Anyone that's been here,
they know that I'm always like this," Richardson told graduating
students. "I'm always smiling. Always happy because I am proud of what
I've become and I'm looking forward to the future and I just want
everyone to know that anything I can do to help you I will."
Richardson is one of BTI's many success stories. He graduated from the
program in 2010 and, with BTI's help, landed a job right away as a lab
technician with Paragon Bioservices, a tenant in the BioPark. He says
personal hardship guided him toward his career goal of improving cancer
treatment. "Going through the program I was actually going with my
mother to get treated for the cancer and unfortunately she passed, but
she was able to attend the graduation ceremony, which I'll never
forget," he says.
Like all of the students, Richardson spent 100 hours in a hands-on
internship. Graduates also receive 6 credit hours from Baltimore City
Community College. Baltimore
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, JD,
told graduates and their families they are an important part of one of
the city's biggest growth industries.
"I'm very encouraged to see that we are so diligently training our
workers for these in-demand jobs in Maryland's life sciences
industries," she says. "Through 2013 Maryland has invested in more than
60 companies, creating more than 250 biotechnology jobs, leveraging
$96 million in additional investment, so I think you've made a good
choice by investing in your future and your career prospects right here
Maryland Secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and
Regulation Leonard J.
Howie III, JD, MBA, urged graduates to keep learning. "In the
scientific field things move and change so rapidly that the jobs that
are here today, they're not going to be the jobs that are there in
2020," he says. "They're going to change.They're going to be
something different, and you need to learn as much as you can to
position yourselves so that you can take advantage of whatever
opportunities do come to light."
Despite a difficult economy, Ted Olsen, CEO of Pathsensors, another BioPark tenant, was upbeat about the
graduates' career opportunities. "I know the economy has its challenges
today," he says, but for biotech trained people the state of Maryland
has a huge pool of companies that are available for you to go work in
and to go use your skill sets in."
In addition to being the graduation's industry speaker, Pathsensors'
Olsen is Lucie Jones' employer. Jones says the company's positive
environment was a big factor in her success. "They're awesome in the
fact that they took time with what I needed, what I didn't know. They
did not have a problem teaching me, made it very easy for me to
understand, gave me techniques to use in the classroom as well as in
the field that I still carry with me today," she says.
Jones got a rare chance to show just how much she learned this summer.
In her role as a lab consultant with Pathsensors, she helped show Maryland Governor
Martin O'Malley, JD, critical pieces of lab technology during a visit to the
"It was overwhelmingly incredible. I didn't think I'd be able to do
what I did. I really didn't. But I can."
|Posting Date: 12/13/2013
|Contact Name: Alex Likowski
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