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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published July 22 2010

2-year colleges partner to offer biotech degree

Area two-year colleges are playing their role to prepare workers for the expanding field of biotechnology.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College announced this week it will begin offering a two-year biotechnology degree to meet the increasing demands for workers.

The new program ties in with one of the areas that the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corp. has identified as a growing industry.

“As we get more businesses that come in, those businesses are going to need more entry-level technicians,” said Shana Petermann, an MSCTC-Moorhead instructor and program director.

Graduates would be qualified to work as research assistants, laboratory technicians and quality control technicians, she said.

Students also could continue on to pursue four-year degrees in fields such as biotechnology, forensic science and molecular biology.

MSCTC is partnering with North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton to offer the program.

Students will take their first year of classes on their home campus.

They will then go to the Center for Nanoscience Technology Training in north Fargo for hands-on training during the summer and the second year of the program.

Mary Batcheller, director of business development for the economic development corporation, said the two-year colleges play an important role in work-force development.

“The two-year piece definitely fits in as either a stepping stone to the four-year or as industry training that’s going to fill some of the jobs that are out there that maybe don’t require the four-year degree but do require some technical skills,” Batcheller said.

For the region, the average wage for workers with two-year degrees in biological sciences was $14.75 an hour in 2009, according to data from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590