WIRED Biotechnology Program Gives Students Glimpse of High-Tech Future Careers

Lauren Mullen, a senior at Byron-Bergen High School, plans to attend college after graduation to study veterinary science. This summer, she took the opportunity to participate in the WIRED Biotechnology Program at Genesee Community College, a course that allowed students to earn money while attending college credit courses for six weeks. One goal of this grant-funded program, aimed at students in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, was to encourage students to seek careers in the life sciences career field.

“I really enjoyed the program. It was great to have something to stimulate my brain during the summer,” Lauren said. “And it was nice to get paid too.”

Approximately forty of the area’s brightest students participated in the program, which ran from July 7-August 16 and included instruction in Career and Educational Planning, Fundamentals of Cell Biology, and an Introduction to Biotechnology. One of the key features of the program included field trips to locations such as Gaymar Industries, Inc. in Orchard Park, a company that produces high-tech medical equipment; Syntec Custom Injection Molder in Pavilion, which manufactures injection molded plastic products for the pharmaceutical industry; University at Buffalo in Amherst, where students toured the Dental School Library and the School of Dental Medicine; and United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, where students visited the hospital’s laboratories.

“The field trips were great. I got to continue learning about what is interesting to me over the summer,” said Keith Sykes, a senior at Attica High School who plans to study pre-med at Canisius College after he graduates in 2009. “I’m glad I took these classes and got a chance to experience college-level work. Everything was excellent.”

There are currently more than 130 life sciences companies in the Buffalo Niagara region alone, which offers a broad array of career opportunities for these students. For more information about this program, which was sponsored by The Finger Lakes WIRED – Increasing Emerging Workforce Skills, Genesee Community College, and other partners, contact Ed Levinstein, Associate Dean of ACE Programs at Genesee, at 585-343-0055 x6300 or by email at ejlevinstein@genesee.edu.