Oceanside CA— MiraCosta College has submitted its application to the Chancellor’s Office to conduct a pilot biomanufacturing baccalaureate program.
“The baccalaureate program will provide a tremendous opportunity for the students at MiraCosta College and our feeder high schools,” said Dr. Mary Benard, Vice President of Instructional Services. “The proposed program builds on an exemplary Biotechnology Program already present at the college and is responsive to the growing need for baccalaureate trained manufacturing and production technicians in North County.”
San Diego County is one of the top three life science clusters in the country, with many biotech companies operating in the MiraCosta College district, which spans from Oceanside to Carmel Valley. The program, if chosen, will prepare students for employment in the manufacturing sector of the biotechnology industry, which includes biotherapeutics, diagnostics, supplies and services, and industrial products. The degree will also prepare graduates for technical and quality assurance/control-related positions.
“Our proposal for a degree program in biomanufacturing is incredibly important to our region and, specifically, North County San Diego,” said Mike Fino, MiraCosta College biological sciences instructor. “Objectively, this is a remarkably worthy degree program that is industry-responsive with well-paid, in-demand career paths within an industry segment that is one of the largest in the nation.”
MiraCosta College’s application follows the passage of Senate Bill 850, authored by State Senator Marty Block and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, which permits community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees through a pilot program. Only 15 of California’s 72 community college districts will be selected to offer the program. So far, 36 districts have applied. If approved, MiraCosta College will begin its biomanufacturing program no later than the 2017-18 academic year, with a degree completion date of no later than the 2022-23 school year.
The degrees submitted for consideration need to meet various factors including geographic distribution, diversity, and ability of the district to establish a rigorous program in their proposed field and that the proposed program will meet an unaddressed local or statewide workforce need.
Local biotechnology companies have expressed their support of the proposed baccalaureate program, including Genentech, MO BIO Laboratories, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Genomatica, Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific, SAFC Pharma, Assure Controls, and Beckman Coulter.
“I am very pleased that MiraCosta has submitted what I believe is a very competitive application to offer a Baccalaureate Degree in Biomanufacturing,” said Dr. Richard Robertson, Interim President/Superintendent. “North San Diego County has several excellent biotechnology initiatives underway and MiraCosta can help prepare students at the baccalaureate degree level for employment. The idea of a very affordable baccalaureate degree option for some community college students is exciting.”
It is estimated that the total student fees for the bachelor’s degree will be about $10,000.
The state Chancellor’s Office, in consultation with the University of California and California State University, will decide which districts are chosen to host programs. This decision will then be subject to California Community Colleges Board of Governors approval and is scheduled to be made on January 21, 2015.