The BTEC-- An Ideal Learning Environment
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The BTEC-- An Ideal Learning Environment

Students such as Jacob Traverse who are preparing for careers in the biotechnology industry will have access to large-scale equipment training at the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center. (Photo courtesy Lisbeth Hamer)

Ornate letter "N"
orth Carolina ranks among the top five biotechnology regions in the United States; the state’s biotechnology industry currently employs 18,500 people in 181 companies.

And more employees are needed — with the quality of training that will make them immediately productive in a biomanufacturing environment. In the biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries alone, an estimate of the necessary number of new employees in North Carolina is roughly 2,500 per year — while currently fewer than 200 to 300 workers are trained annually.

With rapid advances in bioprocess-ing, biomanufacturing and biopharma-ceutical technologies and aggressive competition from other states, North Carolina’s universities, community colleges and biotech industry recognized the immediate need for student and worker access to large-scale equipment training, pilot plant and clean room experiences, and good manufacturing practices (GMP) and good laboratory practices (GLP) instruction.

To help fulfill those needs, the new Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) is to be constructed on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus. The BTEC is planned as one facet of a larger initiative to train students and workers for the state’s biomanufacturing industry and to help develop the human resource infrastructure for this industry.

The Golden LEAF Foundation (Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation) is providing $36 million to design, build and equip the BTEC, as part of an overall $60 million grant for biomanufacturing research training at N.C. Central University and for five Regional Skill Centers in the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS). The NCCCS will also operate a BioNetwork learning center within the BTEC.

Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, head of the NCSU Department of Chemical Engineering and founding director of the BTEC, said, “The BTEC will be a major new force for statewide economic development and job creation in the biomanufacturing, pharmaceutical and related agricultural industries in North Carolina. In conjunction with the BioNetwork developed by NCCCS and the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise, to be located at NCCU, the entire training Consortium will mobilize to bring unique job skills and GMP-level biomanufacturing training to future generations of North Carolinians. This training exists nowhere in the country and should serve as a magnet for new business expansions and relocations by this critical sector for our state’s economy.”

Anticipated benefits of the BTEC are that it will annually train 2,000 to 3,000 prospective employees for the state’s biomanufacturing industry; attract new biomanufacturing companies to the state; reduce the “brain drain”— the relocation of technically trained people to other states; assist the development of new technologies for production of value-added pharmaceuticals, protein-based products and chemicals from organisms, plants, cell culture and other bio-based systems; and enhance the creation of rural biomanufacturing jobs and new agribusiness opportunities.

The facility is slated for completion by the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

The BTEC will be operated in conjunction with N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Engineering and will provide essential hands-on biomanufacturing experience for university students enrolled in curricula at N.C. State and other UNC system institutions.

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