The required skills for an emerging industry, like biofabrication, will inevitably shift over time as technologies and manufacturing platforms are implemented to improve commercialization methods within the field; however, there will be a constant need for innovation by highly trained operators, technicians, scientists and engineers in order to develop new solutions and technologies and manufacturing capabilities mature over time. To that end and in order to advance the industry forward, BioFabUSA is collecting industry input on skills gaps and training needs, which will change as necessary over time as the standard practices evolve.
This project call is intended to advance ARMI | BioFabUSA's mission by ensuring the existence of a skilled workforce for the industry. Funded projects will demonstrate a plan for impacting and building awareness, interest, enthusiasm and action in the area of biofabrication with a priority on K-12 levels of education, as well as have the potential to be scaled-up and carried out at a national level. Industry-lead and academic-lead projects with industry input into the project will be viewed favorably.
There are currently challenges associated with providing opportunities for students to gain exposure and experience in the field to allow for better understanding and continued interest in a career in biofabrication. Findings have shown that students are often unaware of potential career opportunities, and that students who are already advanced in their career paths in fields such as bioengineering are often surprised and intrigued to learn of the emerging industry. Students often want to be in a career where they are able to help others, but have a difficult time understanding how biofabrication fits into that pathway.
Educational experiences offer various ways to provide meaningful impact on students that are trying to select a career path, such as workshops, camps, classroom activities, etc., as well as student impact through teacher professional development opportunities and implementation, ultimately leading to student exposure. Developing and implementing new programs, as well as leveraging the infrastructure of existing programs are within the scope of this project call.
In addition, the opportunity to experience a career first hand provides direct benefit to industry by attracting new talent, but few opportunities exist for students. Ideal programs would provide real-world experiences for students that engage in activities within industry that allow them to realize potential career opportunities for themselves within the field of biofabrication.