College News

Upstream and away for CCCC program

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Sanford, NC--The bioprocess technology program at Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) is streaming toward the future. The program received exciting news Thursday, December 2, 2004 when Golden LEAF, a non-profit corporation, approved a $124,000 grant for new equipment to teach upstream processing at the new science building on the Lee campus. The CCCC proposal was presented as a part of many grants the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) and its BioNetwork program had up for approval.

" We are quite excited to be receiving additional funds to purchase some rather expensive equipment," said bioprocessing technology lead instructor Susan Poindexter. "Without the generosity of Golden LEAF, the college would not be able to afford the items we plan to purchase with the grant monies."

The expensive new equipment will enable the bioprocess technology program to better prepare and educate students learning the principles of upstream bioprocessing.

" Upstream bioprocessing entails all the necessary preparation steps in growing a microorganism," explained Poindexter. "The broth in which the organism will be grown has to be prepared, which can require several operations such as weighing out all the chemical components, mixing them, and then inoculating the broth with the organism of choice. The growth of the organism itself--fermentation--is also considered an upstream bioprocessing operation."

The program will now be able to purchase a Sixfors multi-fermenter, a shaker incubator and several pieces of bench equipment that will be utilized by all bioprocessing students. The Sixfors multi-fermenter has six fermenters and will increase the efficiency and productivity of laboratory activities. The upstream processing course currently uses a single fermenter, which limits a student's hands-on experience. The shaker incubator enhances cell growth during fermenting. The bench equipment will furnish four workstations in the program's laboratory. The new equipment is scheduled to be installed by August 2005 and will be available to students during the 2005-2006 academic year.

Engineering technologies chair Steve Lympany believes the new equipment will better prepare students for the future. "It provides hands-on simulations of the processes that take place in the industry," Lympany said. "Students are then well prepared to enter the workplace with useful knowledge and skills to begin a successful career in bioprocessing."

" Since upstream processing is a major part of the work carried on within the bioprocessing industry, the addition of the equipment will enable us to better prepare the students by allowing more hands-on experience," added Poindexter. "A larger number of students can be involved in the lab activities without having to wait in line."

The bioprocess technology program at CCCC trains bioprocess manufacturing technicians and was the first in North Carolina to offer a two-year Associate in Applied Sciences degree. The program's laboratory activities develop student proficiency in basic lab techniques involving the growth, identification and separation of microorganisms. Students learn the importance of controlling contamination, various product purification methods and current good manufacturing practices.

" CCCC is excited to be the leader in educating and training for the growing bioprocess industry in North Carolina," Lympany said.

" CCCC was one of the first community colleges in North Carolina to respond to the need for biotech training," said CCCC president Matt Garrett. "The equipment for training biotechnicians is very expensive, and during the recent recession the state cut community college equipment funding for several years. Consequently, we have been running this curriculum on a very tight budget. This grant, which is the second one we have received this year, will help us to provide the kind of bioprocessing equipment that our students really need for proper training."

The bioprocessing technology program received an $84,000 grant from Golden LEAF in June which is being used to purchase downstream processing equipment (for separation and purification) along with some other items. The two grants totaling $208,200 will allow students to run a process virtually from start to finish.

CCCC first offered the bioprocess technology program in 1998 and since then the program has steadily grown from 15 the first year to 56 in Fall 2003. The program has trained over 300 workers since 2000.