Building Blocks for the Bioscience Workforce of Tomorrow

Much has been said recently about the need to develop a workforce that is proficient in math and science in order to meet the growing technical needs of the bioscience industry. The Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE), Tennessee’s first charter school, is in fact, a building block for giving area students the knowledge they need to pursue careers in the biosciences.


But just having a high school degree with an emphasis in math and science is not going to be enough for every opportunity. Many students will want to pursue a career that requires continuing on to a local college, university or junior college for more training. Those who want an even bigger advantage should pursue internship opportunities whenever and wherever they can.

Ideally, potential students will be able to find the resources, programs and opportunities they need in their own backyard. Why should we send our students to other cities to receive their education and work experience when we have, or can develop, the same capabilities here?

Recognizing the need for a locally trained and educated workforce, Medtronic has implemented several initiatives designed specifically to help students at MASE obtain the college training and workforce experience that is essential to success.

Last month, Medtronic awarded its first $4,000 MASE college scholarship to Sherman Sutton, Jr., a 10th-grade student. Given in honor of Alan Olsen, founder of the spinal company Danek, the scholarship will be given annually to a MASE student so that he or she may attend their college of choice. Each year, interested MASE students will submit an essay on the topic of leadership, with a scholarship winner chosen by a committee comprised of Medtronic employees.

The company also has pledged $1 million to Southwest Tennessee Community College toward construction of a new state-of-the-art nursing and science building, which will also house the college’s biotech lab technician degree program.

However, Medtronic isn’t just handing out funding and then waiting for someone else to do the work. It also announced this month two programs at the University of Memphis designed to provide hands-on work and research experience to undergraduate students.

As a community, it is our job to guide students and give them the resources and tools to make it in the economy of the future. Medtronic is to be commended for these new programs. I encourage everyone to think about what their company can do to help build the workforce for Memphis’ future.

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