In a National Science Foundation (NSF) article in late 2020, The future of how things are made, the NSF began asking researchers to “reimagine the future of how things are made, laying the groundwork for manufacturing that is sustainable; takes full advantage of artificial intelligence; incorporates advancements in fields such as bioengineering and materials science…”
NSF is already helping those imaginations to move fast, by investing approximately $250 million per year in advanced manufacturing research. The article states that “advances in computer-aided design to drive development of 3D printing and sustained advanced nanomaterials, NSF’s decades-long investment in fundamental research has transformed manufacturing, resulting in products modern society has come to depend on.”
Advanced manufacturing, for many people, brings to mind large machinery that melts, cuts, and bends metal, among other things, but a fundamental part of innovation in manufacturing and many other industries, is the field of materials science.
Materials science is increasingly joining together with other specialties, in this post we’re highlighting how biology, or more specifically, Biotechnology experts are teaming up with Materials Science experts. MatEdU and InnovATEBIO, led by NSF Principal Investigator, Dr. Linnea Fletcher, and based at Austin Community College, are teaming up to create and increase technician-level skill to serve the companies, new and old, at the intersection of these two fields.
The InnovATEBIO website states: “Advancing the U.S. bioeconomy will require a growing biotechnology workforce that is well educated and diverse. Located at Austin Community College in Texas and partnering with institutions of higher education, high schools, industry, and non-profits throughout the country, the InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center, an NSF-funded Advanced Technological Education Center, works with the biotech community to scope out workforce needs and address them by educating highly skilled technicians. InnovATEBIO supports a cadre of well-trained instructors and is helping to increase the number and quality of biotechnology education programs, as well as introducing a wide range of underrepresented students to biotechnology.”
For example, in her detailed InnovATEBIO presentation, Bio-inspired and Sustainable Design: Towards Functional Materials (YouTube video link), Dr. LaShanda Korley, at the University of Delaware, highlighted how her Center (funded under the NSF PIRE program) takes inspiration from “nature to design new materials that can change toughness in response to their environment, are safer and more effective biological implants, will transmit nerve-like electrical signals, and can respond to the environment to initiate biological processes with an eye toward soft robotic applications.”
Like MatEdU with its National Online Resource Center and course modules, InnovATEBIO offers “Courses in a box” with materials to help instructors get a new course off the ground quickly.
These resources may include:
- course description
- student outcomes
- reading assignments or references to a textbook or articles
- laboratory exercises
- lecture materials
- classroom activities
- homework assignments
- exams and quizzes
Here are a few of the InnovATEBIO courses:
Bioinformatics for Biology and Biotech
Contributed By: Sandra Porter
This bioinformatics course was developed by Dr. Sandra Porter over a ten year period as a semester-long course in the biotechnology program at Austin Community College with a …
Contributed By: Oana Martin
This course introduces the basic concepts involved in the separation of molecules. The purpose of this course is to give students a basic understanding of the basic underlying …
Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus
Welcome to the Hazardous Materials course-in-a-box. This course is not designed as a safety training course. The educational philosophy of this course, like that of most of the …
Laboratory Math for Biotechnology
Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus
Bench work in the biotechnology laboratory requires that technicians possess certain fundamental math skills and the ability to apply these skills.
If you are interested in Biotechnology jobs, including biomaterials jobs, you will want to visit the BioTech Careers page on LinkedIn (via InnovATEBIO) as well as the main Biotech-Careers.org site that is run by the Digital World Biology team (again funded via InnovATEBIO). The site receives 500,000-plus visitors each year and helps students find biotech careers.
Finally, our recent MatEdU post: HI-TEC Event Supports Materials Science Workforce Of The Future, reports on related biotech presentations and materials science resources.