HCC receives $650,000 grant for biotech


(Release: September 17, 2012) - Hagerstown Community College has been awarded a three-year, $651,249 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create an on-campus microscopy training hub (MTH) and a mobile MTH to further develop its biotechnology program.

The grant will be used to purchase equipment and enhance biotechnology curricula used by HCC and its K-12 school partners at all levels of the College and Career Transitions Initiative pathway, created through HCC’s previously awarded NSF grant, which ended in June. 

“In our previous Pathways to Biotechnology grant, we went into the science classrooms and talked to students who were already committed to choosing STEM education. With this grant, we are going to go into K-12 and college classrooms with cutting edge microscopy equipment in an attempt to engage students who otherwise might not realize how much potential they have for STEM careers,” said Judith Peisen, chair of HCC’s mathematics and science division.

“Washington County Public Schools welcomes this additional grant partnership with Hagerstown Community College. These resources will provide additional teacher professional development and will extend exploration and skill building for our students leading to greater college and career readiness,” said Sandra Graff, K-12 supervisor of science for Washington County Public Schools.

The central theme of the MTH is to engage students and their teachers with increasingly sophisticated microscopy skills and expand their career options in biotechnology as they build their skills and experience. Middle school students will be included with a summer Young Engineers and Science (YES) program, sponsored by a Fort Detrick, Md., outreach program, and elementary school students through HCC’s College for Kids program. 

“We are very excited about the opportunities this new grant will open to the tri-state area. We look forward to using the equipment purchased through NSF to provide STEM outreach out to a greater portion of our community,” said Alicia Manfre, coordinator of HCC’s biotechnology program.

This is HCC’s second biotechnology grant from the NSF. The first one was a three-year, $672,696 grant, awarded in 2009, that was used to develop the biotechnology educational pathway in Washington County, from high school through to employment.

HCC began its biotechnology program in 2007 and offers certificate and degree options for students who plan to enter the biotechnology industry immediately or continue their studies at four-year institutions. InnovaBio-MD is a unique program offered through HCC’s biotechnology program that gives students the opportunity to conduct actual research as training for entry-level positions in the biotechnology industry. The wet labs area of HCC’s Technical Innovation Center provides rental space for start-up bioscience firms.