Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)

Community College of Allegheny County

05/12/2011 -- CCAC Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative marks 10th graduate

For more information, contact CCAC Public Relations.

PITTSBURGH—At the commencement ceremony for the Community College of Allegheny County May 19, the 10th graduate of the college’s Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative will walk across the stage toward a brighter future at a local biotech company.

Eight more graduates are expected to follow her in December. They represent the hope and perseverance of 25 learners enrolled in a unique education and career development program that offers local disadvantaged women and veterans the chance to develop occupational skills in the biotechnology and health sciences fields.

“They are at various points in their studies, but all look to the day when they can graduate and begin a rewarding career in biotechnology,” said Christine Compliment, student support coordinator for the program. “For many, this has been their only chance to get an education that will allow them to become self-sufficient and earn a living wage for their families.”

The partnership among CCAC and Allegheny General Hospital's Allegheny-Singer Research Institute (ASRI), the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative (PTEI) and the North Side Leadership Conference (NSLC) is entering its third year. Applications are currently being accepted for the fall term.

The program was originally funded by, and continues to receive support from, private funding sources in Pittsburgh. Two years ago, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) grant opened the program to three new groups of students. Scholarships cover tuition, fees, books and supplies.

“Some of our graduates have gone on to full-time employment, allowing them to leave the public assistance system or a minimum wage job behind,” said Allysen Todd, PhD, academic dean, CCAC–Allegheny Campus. “Some have enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs, continuing their education toward science or health careers. All have benefitted from the experience of working hard toward a goal, persevering in overcoming obstacles and achieving a hard-won victory.”

The Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative is an associate’s degree program based at CCAC–Allegheny Campus on Pittsburgh’s North Shore that offers a six-week bridge program to prepare students for coursework, followed by a two-semester learning community where students create study supports and build lasting friendships with fellow students and caring faculty and staff. Each student works with a mentor through internships in the labs of Allegheny-Singer Research Institute and the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative. CCAC also provides job placement assistance as students prepare to graduate.

“Studies tell us that biotechnology is a ‘nexus’ field that is poised for significant growth in our region over the next decade,” said Charles Blocksidge, PhD, executive director of the CCAC–Allegheny County Workforce Alliance. “The Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative is a proven initiative to give disadvantaged individuals a means of entering these growing careers.”

With the program’s second NSF-funded cohort, CCAC aims to expand beyond the current student population, which has included mostly females from Pittsburgh’s North Side. The program is also intended to provide new opportunities for veterans and others seeking a new start toward a family-sustaining career.

For further information on application deadlines and start dates, potential students may call 412.237.2540 or email


About CCAC
The Community College of Allegheny County is the largest institution of postsecondary higher education in Pennsylvania. The college serves 30,000 credit students through 170 degree and certificate programs and offers thousands of lifelong learning non-credit and workforce development courses to 35,000 students annually. Incorporating a learning-centered environment committed to the future of the region, CCAC continues to expand its reach through innovative programming and accessible instruction offered via convenient day, evening, weekend and online courses. With four campuses and six centers serving Allegheny County and surrounding communities, CCAC endeavors to fulfill its mission to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment that prepares the region’s residents for academic, professional and personal success in our changing global society.