Friday, April 8, 2011

Biotechnology College Programs Prepare You For Many Sectors of the Field

Biotechnology Technicians (also known as bench technicians) have the distinct job of assuring quality control in areas of manufacturing such as food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. These areas in which humans consume or use products are very important and require the utmost attention. Therefore, biotechnology technicians must attend a biotechnology college program before entering the field.

If the field sounds like one in which you may have interest, Centennial College in Toronto, Ont. offers a two year Biotechnology Technician – Industrial Microbiology program. Students are provided with thorough practical training in industrial microbiology as well as chemistry (analytical and organic) and biochemistry. As with all Centennial College programs, there are prerequisites to attending. First, students must present at minimum an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent or be 19 years of age or older. Also required is completion of compulsory English 12C or U or skills assessment, or equivalent and Math 11M or U or 12C or U or skills assessment, or equivalent. Students are placed in appropriate English level based on skills assessment results. Lastly, students who test at an advanced level may be accelerated directly into MATH-176 in semester 1 and MATH-186 in semester 2. Those taking MATH-140 will have the opportunity to complete MATH-186 between semesters 2 and 3.

The first thing to note about this biotechnology college program is that it is nationally accredited by the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists, which has deemed it as having met the national technology accreditation requirements. In addition, the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists recognizes the Biotechnology Technician - Industrial Microbiology program as meeting all the academic requirements for certification in the Technician Category. These national accreditations support program quality and provide mobility for graduates.

Within the program, students obtain practical training from professionals with experience in the field. These faculty members are able to bring a special perspective to teaching the biotechnology technician courses, which include: Intro to Biological Systems (students study various levels of complexity in living organisms from the molecular level to the whole organism and the relationship to physical and chemical science); Microbiology (students are introduced to the basic principles of microbiology); Inorganic Chemistry for Microbiology (emphasis is placed on inorganic reactions and phenomenon present in microbiological systems); and much more. In addition, woven into these courses are lessons on appropriate safety procedures, biotechnology technician projects, and independently designed microbiology tasks that enhance problem solving and research skills.

Upon graduation from the Biotechnology College program, bench technicians have a number of responsibilities. First and foremost, they isolate, enumerate and identify microorganisms from many types of samples (water, soil, air, your body, and food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products). This is a key component of the job, as is preparing specimens for staining and using a light-microscope. In addition, biotechnology technicians handle materials and instruments such as pH and BOD meters, Gas Chromatographs, spectrophotometers (regular/IR/UV), HPLC’s etc. Lastly, they prepare microbiological media and reagents; culture pathogenic microbes; and design and perform their own microbiology experiments.

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