Kodak, RIT Partner to Train Future Biotech Workers




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Rochester Institute of Technology and Eastman Kodak Co. are committed to addressing a shortage in the Rochester region's biotechnology workforce.

Kodak will allocate up to $280,000 from its Rochester Economic Development Fund to provide free tuition for 35 people to complete a certificate program at RIT's Center for Biotechnology Education and Training (CBET).

The 10-week program in Basic Biotechnology Skills for Bioprocessing Operations is designed for individuals who either have an educational background in the biological or chemical sciences or previous laboratory experience. The certificate program will provide fundamental skills needed for entry-level laboratory technician positions with biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, as well as with medical research centers. The first session began Oct. 6 with 10 students. Another 10 students will be accepted for the winter section beginning in January and an additional 15 for the spring program.

“The Greater Rochester region has identified biotechnology as a strategic economic development opportunity,” says RIT President Albert Simone. “In order to realize that opportunity, however, we need a workforce that has the skills that the industry needs. Fortunately, RIT's Center for Biotechnology Education and Training is prepared to help meet this need, and Kodak is providing us with some of the resources to do so.”

Charles Brown Jr., senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Kodak, says: “We applaud RIT for recognizing the need for biotechnology professionals and for designing a curriculum to address the local manpower shortage in this important high-tech area. The CBET training will provide local biotechnology companies with an important resource to meet their workforce needs—certified technicians ready to participate in this dynamic industry.”

“We are very pleased to continue the legacy of collaboration between RIT and Eastman Kodak Company. Together, we are leveraging assets to provide specialized training, address a significant growth opportunity in our community and create jobs,” Brown says.

CBET is a national model for comprehensive academic and career training programs in biotechnology and the emerging life sciences. CBET also creates customized workshops and seminars for industry partners and is becoming a source for industry/academic research collaborations. The center grew from an earlier workforce study assessing the needs of the biotechnology industry in Western New York conducted by RIT's Douglas Merrill, associate dean of the College of Science, and Gary Skuse, director of bioinformatics.