SciTech visits STEM gem in Minneapolis

MCTC_Rekha_Carla
December 9, 2013

MHTA – Just across Hennepin Avenue from The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis is the small, bustling urban campus of the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). SciTechsperience Internship Program Director, Becky Siekmeier, recently met with MCTC math and science students and faculty in the school’s Science Center. While there, Siekmeier discovered the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) gem located in the heart of the city.

Siekmeier received a tour of the MCTC chemistry, biology and biotechnology facilities and was very impressed with what she saw. Dr. Rekha Ganaganur, Biotech and Chemistry Associate of Science Degrees Program Lead at MCTC, told Siekmeier that “The faculty was very involved with the design of the building. We looked at the standards of the American Chemical Society. Now other two year schools across the U.S. model what we’ve done here.”

The coursework in the biotechnology degree program was carefully designed to account for industry and transferability needs. “This is such a huge field with diverse applications,” Ganaganur explained. “We designed the programs such that there would be multiple types of competencies and courses. Our students can work almost anywhere in any of the sectors.” Read more about MCTC’s biotechnology programming here

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The quality of MCTC’s biotech programming is exemplified in students like Carla Pulles (pictured above, right). Pulles is a former student of Dr. Ganaganur’s (above, left) and a graduate of MCTC with triple associate degrees in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Biology. She is now studying bio-based products engineering at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

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.Pulles joined Siekmeier in talking with students and faculty about the SciTechsperience Internship Program. “Carla is one of our best success stories,” Siekmeier said. Pulles was hired for summer internships with Aspen Research Corporation in 2012 and again in 2013. “It’s so rewarding to hear students talk about how the program was instrumental in helping them gain hands-on experience and in making career choices. Carla is a great ambassador for our program.”

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“It’s been such an amazing experience,” Pulles said as she shared her insight on the ease of using SciTechsperience, surviving a 3-hour panel interview at Aspen Research, and the importance of making good choices in coursework selection. She encouraged students to take as many laboratory courses as possible and had advice on taking one course in particular. “I have to give a plug for the Regulatory Affairs Course. Take it! I highly recommend it. The lab that I worked in at Aspen Research is an ISO 17025 certified lab. None of the other applicants knew what that was or what it involved.”

Pulles said that, prior to her first internship at Aspen Research in 2012, she wasn’t really sure what degree program she wanted to pursue at the U of M. “I knew I wanted to go into science; cell biology or bio chemistry,” she said. “After working in this internship I definitely knew that I wanted to go into bio-based products engineering, especially after I got to work with the bio-based plastic composites part of the company. It was so fascinating.”

“One of the benefits of the internship program is that it got me so excited about my degree program. I cannot wait to get my degree, graduate, and work in a similar field,” Pulles told students. She said she hears constantly from alumni in her field how important real work experience is to getting hired after graduation.

“I can’t speak highly enough about [SciTechsperience]. It’s a wonderful opportunity. You saw the application process; it’s really easy just to put yourself out there.”
To learn more about SciTechsperience, visit the program web page or contact Becky Siekmeier at beckys@mhta.org or 952-230-4241.

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