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Wake Tech will soon offer agricultural biotechnology training to support the growing demand for skilled technicians in plant science in the Triangle region.

With support from a $449,000 National Science Foundation Advance Technological Education (ATE) grant, the college is developing a five-course certificate in agricultural biotechnology to diversify entry-level biotechnology education options for students.


North Carolina is one of the top 10 agriculture-producing states in the nation, and ag biotechnology companies in the region are in need of talented workers to supply farmers with tools to help make agriculture more productive, healthier and sustainable.


The new program will offer students the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in biotechnology as it relates to agriculture, including bioprocessing, plant science and plant propagation. They will learn hands-on techniques in state-of-the-art laboratory settings.


Career opportunities include agricultural biolab technician, tissue culture specialist, field sampler, quality control technician, food technician and biofuel technician.


"Companies in our region take a diverse approach to creating meaningful health care solutions, and the growth of the ag biotech sector is coming," said Leslie Isenhour, dean of Wake Tech's Biotechnologies Division. "We want to be ready to offer a well-trained workforce to meet that growth."


The training will also align with biotechnology courses offered to high school students at the Wake Early College of Information and Biotechnologies at the college's RTP Campus in an effort to unify the employment pipeline from high school to college.

The specialized 16-credit-hour certificate, which begins this fall, is the college's latest biotech training option and can count as credit toward the Biotechnology Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. Wake Tech launched its Biotechnology degree in 2021, and in just two years, the program has grown to 60 students.

Wake Tech also offers the Biopharmaceutical Technology AAS, which prepares students for careers in pharmaceutical manufacturing and related industries. The college also offers BioWork, an accelerated non-degree certification that can lead to an entry-level position as a process technician in the biopharmaceutical industry.

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