About Solano Biotech
Solano Community College designed the Biotech program to respond to the announcement that several major biotech companies were locating large manufacturing facilities in the region. At the time that the College founded the program, the few existing colleges and universities that had biotech programs educated students in the knowledge required to carry out research in the field. Solano College’s program was one of the first programs to concentrate on training technicians for what is now called biomanufacturing. Solano College’s program adds an examination of the business and regulatory side of the industry to the rigorous examination of the science fundamentals behind the field. The program incorporates these considerations into both lecture and laboratory education and training. As biotech companies in the other regions of the country matured from their research phase to their development phase to their manufacturing phase, other colleges turned to Solano College for curriculum in biomanufacturing; Solano College’s curriculum and facilities have served as a model for many other colleges and universities.
Currently biomanufacturing means growing living cells (bacterial, yeast, and animal cells) in large tanks called bioreactors and inducing them to produce a protein that serves as a medicine. That protein then must be separated from other cellular components and purified by using techniques that exploit its properties to isolate it away from other cellular proteins. Then technicians use analytical techniques to prove the purity of the isolated protein. In the future biomanufacturing will be expanded to include the industrial production of biofuels, biomaterials, stem cells, and other products currently manufactured using chemical rather than biological techniques. Solano College is exploring the addition of these elements to its program.
The region’s biotechnology companies require a trained workforce, and Solano College’s program emphasizes practical, hands-on training that prepares students for the workplace. The teaching laboratories emulate the work environment. Students work in teams, follow Standard Operating Procedures, fill out Batch Production Records, and work in an setting that simulates the current Good Manufacture Practice environment demanded by the Food and Drug Administration in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Students also gain experience writing resumes, undergoing interviews, and graduates exit the program ready to apply for the technician positions in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Once there, an employee who works hard enjoys a great potential for advancement.
These careers are not just for biology and other science majors. If you are good at working with your hands, enjoy mechanical tasks, excel at problem-solving, are detail-oriented, care about quality, and like to work as part of a team, these traits will take you very far in biotech. Our classes can give you the biology, chemistry, and mathematical background to fill in the rest. We have found that veterans are especially easy to place, since biotech companies recognize that come in with transferable skills, discipline, and a great work ethic.
Like an extended internship, we give students from many different backgrounds the real-world experience they need to succeed immediately in a biotech career.
In May 2017 the California Community College Board of Governors approved a proposal that will allow Solano College to offer a Bachelors degree in biomanufacturing. The program will begin in Fall 2017. Applications will be due March 31, 2017. The first class will graduate at the end of the Spring 2019 semester.