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College Program Wins $431,000 in Grants


MOORPARK — A biotechnology program operated by Moorpark College, considered a model for preparing future technology workers, has been awarded more than $431,000 in grants.

The National Science Foundation has designated $339,538 to help buy new equipment and hire more instructors. And the California Community College Vocational and Technical Education Act allocated $91,683.

"They have a great plan," said Gordon Uno, of the National Science Foundation. "They had a huge commitment from their local industry--in terms of money, equipment and personnel. That makes for a perfect combination because they are getting experts in there."

The 2-year-old program has college officials working with Amgen and Baxter Healthcare Corp. to train students for entry-level technician jobs. Students take basic science courses and laboratory instruction, and receive a certificate upon completion.

The companies donated $250,000 in financing and equipment to help build a mock manufacturing facility in Camarillo. The 8,000-square-foot laboratory, which opened in January on the Cal State Channel Islands campus, gives students hands-on experience.

The National Science Foundation grant is a small portion of up to $30 million that the government agency doles out each year to high-tech education programs around the country. Community colleges are among the top recipients.

"The community colleges must take a lead in all of these advanced technology education programs because they train so many technicians," said Uno, who oversees the foundation's advanced technology education grant program.

In 1993, Ventura College--in partnership with Amgen--launched the county's first biotechnology program, which has since placed dozens of workers with biotechnology companies. The program at the west county campus has even earned the Chancellor's Award, the state's highest honor for community colleges engaged in innovative partnerships with the community.

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