PITTSBURGH-The Community College of Allegheny County is
providing education and training that leads to well-paying jobs in
STEM fields-all at no cost to students. The BioMaS (Biotechnology,
Math & Sciences) Workforce Collaborative program enables
students to earn a Certificate or Associate of Science in
Biotechnology, or an Associate of Science in Teacher Education
Middle Level Mathematics or Teacher Education Middle Level Science
Specialization in preparation for transfer to a four-year
institution. Nearly 80 percent of the graduates of the program are
successfully entering the workforce or are transferring to
four-year universities to earn a bachelor's degree.
To date, the collaborative has served 51 students with
scholarships and wrap-around services since the spring of 2016.
Nine students have graduated, with four more expected by the end of
the summer and three to four more at the end of the fall semester.
Several of the graduates have gone on to four-year universities to
complete their bachelor's degree, and others have secured positions
in the biotechnology field at institutions such as Duquesne
University, UPMC Critical Care Medicine, Dermpath Diagnostics and
The program is funded by a five-year $629,207 grant from the
National Science Foundation for Scholarships in Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM). Under the grant,
CCAC picks up the balance after Pell grants have been applied.
Therefore, all tuition, fees and books are paid for, whether or not
students qualify for a Pell grant. And the fact that the program is
free is not the only benefit.
"Our program is very hands on, and our students learn solid
lab skills-you usually don't get that in a four-year-school Biology
program," said Katherine Mosley-Turner, CCAC student support
specialist. "Employers are looking for skilled
biotechnologists, and the demand is growing."
Cook MyoSite, a leader in the regenerative medicine industry,
has hired seven graduates from the program.
"The BioMaS program was beneficial to me because it supplied
me with the support I needed to be successful in a field in which I
was unfamiliar," said Tamika Macon, production supervisor at
the Cook MyoSite facility in RIDC Park. "I was able to
take those tools with me to earn my bachelor's degree and advance
in my career."
The BioMaS scholarship covers tuition and fees for up to 65
credits of CCAC credit courses; up to $450 for books in the fall
and spring terms and up to $450 for books in the summer term; a
paid internship for Biotechnology majors; additional
cost-of-attendance items on an as-needed basis; and a monthly bus
pass. In addition, students enjoy the following benefits as part of
the collaborative: involvement in the BioMaS Learning Community to
interact with fellow scholarship students; access to the BioMaS
student support specialist to assist with any challenges impacting
academic success, internship searches (for Biotech majors) and job
searches and preparation; and dedicated tutoring in mathematics and
The majority of students who transfer to four-year schools
typically get hired to work in the academic lab where they did
their internship, according to Mosley-Turner. Once they start
working for the university, the students have the opportunity to
continue to receive a free education until they earn their
bachelor's degree, she said.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must file their
FAFSA annually; be enrolled in a minimum of 24 credits in an
academic year; maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.80; attend
Learning Community meetings; and have satisfactorily completed all
For more information on CCAC's BioMaS Workforce Collaborative
program, visit: ccac.edu/BioMaS.