The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is now home to more than 100 companies that will employ approximately 17,000 workers by 2017. IBM recently announced the creation of 500 new Buffalo-based IT jobs to develop next generation software in the areas of molecular research, genomics, energy efficiency development and defense. New York State announced SolarCity GigaFactory will be located at the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend. And Genesee County is aggressively marketing its 1,279-acre, shovel-ready site developed to support large scale SEMI and nanotechnology-based R&D and manufacturing. These and other developments are shaping our community.
Our region boasts a productive and talented workforce inspired by challenge and change. But with an aging population, it is crucial that we continue to cultivate a workforce able to grow lock- step with these new opportunities. STEM positions offer a lucrative field for those evaluating a career, with an average starting salary of $50,000. Programs like iSciWNY and Dream It Do It! continue to place emphasis on developing our region’s workforce from grade school through college.
Genome Day is a wonderful example of a local initiative that will help shape young minds. Taking place during Science Week on March 17, 2015, the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute will host 400 7th and 8th grade students from the Buffalo Public Schools where UB graduate students and post doctorates will lead a series of activities that promote genomic and bioinformatics literacy.
This initiative is a collaboration between BPS, SUNY and the City of Buffalo, led by Norma Nowak, PhD, executive director at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, a pioneer in the field of human genomics and Sandra Small, PhD, representing workforce development for iSciWNY. Students will have the opportunity to extract their own DNA and take it home in a necklace using Bio-Rad’s “Genes in a Bottle” kit; complete a karyotyping activity to look at chromosomal differences to identify a disease; and to promote understanding of DNA structure, create and take home an origami model. Finally, the students will have the opportunity to identify mutations by interpreting sequences from healthy and tumor cells.
What other ideas and great programs do you know of that are connecting students to STEM careers? Comment below.
by Jenna Kavanaugh, Director, Marketing & Communications