MCCC Biotechnology Receives Visit from Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary

Aug. 19, 2015, Blue Bell/Lansdale, Pa.—Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino met with students and faculty at Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Central Campus in Blue Bell and Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) in Lansdale on Aug. 17 as part of Governor Tom Wolf’s “Jobs That Pay” tour.

At the Central Campus, Secretary Manderino toured MCCC’s Biotechnology, Dental Hygiene and Nursing laboratories to learn about how the state’s investment in those programs and students benefits workforce and economic development in the Commonwealth. At the CAI, she met with students and faculty chefs before engaging in a round table discussion with MCCC leaders.

“The associate’s degree is a valuable credential for community college graduates in Pennsylvania. In fact, most of our students in career-track programs like Dental Hygiene, Biotechnology and Culinary Arts have jobs lined up before they graduate,” explained Dr. James Linksz, interim president, MCCC. “Our graduates also provide much-needed human resources to the region. According to a recent graduate survey, 68 percent of alumni are employed in Montgomery County and 97 percent are employed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

During her visit to MCCC, Secretary Manderino had the opportunity to talk with some of the college’s industry partners who benefit from student interns and graduates. For example, while touring the Biotechnology lab, she met Dr. Karin Abarca Heidemann, director of research and development from Rockland Immunochemical, Inc. in Limerick, Pa., which employs three recent MCCC graduates and offers internship opportunities to current students.

She also met Dr. Mark Schafer, president and COO of PhotoSonix Medical, Inc., a start-up company that rents a workstation in MCCC’s Biotech lab and provides the program’s students with valuable internship experience.

“Biopharmaceuticals is the fastest growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry, and there is a growing need for trained technicians to manufacture these drugs, especially as generic versions start to be produced,” explained Dr. Margaret Bryans, assistant professor of Biotechnology at MCCC. “In addition to the four major pharmaceutical companies in Southeastern Pennsylvania, there are more than 100 small biotechnology companies in the Greater Philadelphia Region, offering exceptional career opportunities to our graduates.”

MCCC offers a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree in Biotechnology, as well as a 16-credit Certificate of Completion, designed to provide hands-on, industry-relevant training to students who already hold associate’s or bachelor’s degrees and who wish to retrain for careers in the biotech field.

Before arriving at MCCC for the day, Secretary Manderino and her team toured VideoRay, a Pottstown-based manufacturer of underwater remotely operated vehicles, which is another of the College’s key industry partners.

- Alana J. Mauger

PHOTO: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino (center) is pictured with Montgomery County Community College Biotechnology students (left) during her visit to the institution’s Central Campus in Blue Bell on Aug. 17. Also pictured from MCCC are Assistant Professor of Biotechnology Dr. Margaret Bryans and Interim President Dr. James Linksz, along with Dr. Karin Abarca Heidemann (far right), director of research and development at Rockland Immunochemical, Inc., which is one of the College’s industry partners. Photo by Alana J. Mauger