Wednesday, September 14, 2022

C&EN: Community colleges as training grounds for biotech

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this cover story on training industry chemists (article by Alla Katsnelson): 
Tracy Ludwick Naputi was a soon-to-be-divorced mother of five managing a McDonald’s restaurant when she realized something had to change. Ludwick Naputi loved science in high school, but the only science-related career she could envision back then was nursing, which turned out to be a bad fit. As she puts it, “Life happened”—and she found herself struggling to support her family and ready for new options.

Then Ludwick Naputi received a flyer from San Diego Miramar College, one of three schools in the region’s community college network, about programs preparing people for biotechnology-related jobs. She decided to enroll. That was in 2005—and it was the beginning of Ludwick Naputi’s journey toward a career she loves.

Today, Ludwick Naputi is making a comfortable salary as a research associate at BioLegend, a company that makes and sells immunoassay kits to scientists. Her position, which involves troubleshooting kits, has lots of room for growth. And her kids are proud of her: when they were young, they would tell their friends and teachers that their mom was a chemist. “I was that displaced single mother who had all kinds of barriers in my way,” she says. “Doing the program at Miramar College opened so many doors for me.”
Great anecdote, really interesting story. It seems that these programs are really great when you have a large enough cluster of employers to absorb the graduates of these kinds of programs (not a concidence, one imagines, that one of these programs was in Delaware.) All in all, a good thing. 


  1. I just joined as faculty at a community college and am quite impressed at the quality of the students. Compared to the aimless students at my previous PUI, my CC students are rather focused and dedicated.

  2. I work as an aseptic process engineer (but trained as an organic chemist) and we have a few community colleges near me that have very targeted programs for operations-based careers in biopharma. I am told they are quite good and we are trying to send our new hires directly out of 4yr colleges to those programs to get more exposure to the operations side in a classroom type of setting.

  3. some times ago i read IBM had a similar IT training program towards high school graduates and they got out with 100kish salary (i dont believe its general to all of their graduates but who knows). Makes you wonder why did i spend 4 years of college taking atmospheric chemistry or intro to psychology...


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20