CMaT Partnership with Georgia Bio Establishes Rural Teacher Training Initiative to Build a Biomanufacturing Workforce

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Research faculty with the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT) Engineering Research Center (ERC) have partnered with Georgia Bio to integrate cell manufacturing into a state-funded, rural high school teacher training initiative (RTTI). The program received $323,000 in state funding during both fiscal years 2020 and 2021; the CMaT ERC is headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


CMaT’s rural teacher training initiative reached 72 teachers from 23 school districts over its first two years. The effort is expected to introduce cell manufacturing to more than 11,000 high school students in the state of Georgia. A critical element of the training is career relevancy and awareness. CMaT Industry Partner, Georgia Bio, invites life science employees to speak directly with teacher participants to help draw a direct connection between training skills and concepts and their relevancy within today’s life science industry. “We need educators to be aware of the vast, high-paying jobs available in the life sciences industry in Georgia. By expanding our proven teacher trainings statewide, we will equip educators with the academic, technical, and leadership skills to meet the students’ interests and industry’s needs,” said Georgia Bio President and CEO Maria Thacker-Goethe.


The RTTI was included in Georgia’s 2020 budget and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp. At its outset, it leveraged public and private funds and operated through the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Centers. The RTTI kicked-off with a two-day workshop in January 2020. The event featured a keynote from CMaT Center Director Krishnendu Roy and hands-on STEM training activities with past CMaT Research Experience for Teachers (RET) participants as well as CMaT graduate trainees. Eight cohorts of eight teachers each were included. In 2021, the teachers were brought into CMaT labs to gain additional research experiences. Participants left the training with a lesson plan and an agreement with Georgia BioEd Institute to receive materials necessary for successful implementation.

The RTTI curriculum is built to highlight and leverage the biotechnology that exists within traditional science courses, including biology and AP biology, chemistry and AP chemistry, physics, environmental biology, agriculture and horticulture, physical science, and life science. Materials are provided to implement training concepts directly into the classroom with on-going supply and curriculum support. Participants have time to plan and prepare to implement one of the labs from the training within the school year to either enhance a current lesson or replace a less effective lesson. The Initiative also provides teachers with the opportunity to connect with industry experts and learn about career opportunities for their students. An optional one-hour focus group is also offered.

The RTTI plans to expand its reach to additional rural locations for fiscal year 2022. Georgia Bio expects to introduce Summer Training opportunities for participants. More details about the program can be found on the Georgia Bio website.