Special to the Citizen
Morgan County High School Biotechnology and Engineering students recently toured the cutting edge Takeda manufacturing plant in the Stanton Springs technology park, outside Social Circle. Takeda and the MCHS Biotech program are building a relationship to promote workforce development and relevant skills for local high tech jobs. Takeda employs more than 1,000 manufacturing and support positions in the plant and there is an ongoing need to hire qualified entry-level workers.
“Although new hires at Takeda receive specialized training for specific job functions at the Georgia Quick Start program in Stanton Springs, it’s crucial for high school students to learn basic lab and business skills before graduation,” says MCHS biotechnology teacher Stan Harrison. “The goal of our biotechnology program is to mold students into problem solvers who can follow specific instructions and work independently – and are therefore, highly employable.”
The Takeda tour is a great opportunity for students to visit the Takeda facility and see a world-class professional environment up close.
“We are grateful that Takeda wants to support our biotech and engineering programs,” says Harrison.
“Students saw familiar equipment and processes from our high school lab, but in a much larger format.”
The two-hour walking tour stretched through several departments in the half-mile long facility, showing the full production process for making both of Takeda’s FDA approved plasma-derived therapies, FLEXBUMIN® (albumin) for burn victims and other specialized conditions and the GAMMAGARD LIQUID® (immunoglobulin) antibody product for patients with immune deficiencies.
Students in the MCHS Biotechnology program are conducting real-world experiments and research in their new, state-of-the-art biotechnology lab, including: A.
0dult Stem Cell and tissue cultures, DNA/Genetic Profiling and Forensic Analysis, Genetic Engineering and GMO, Aquaculture (Fish Farming) and Hydroponics, and Plant Cloning.
“We are fortunate to have a community that has helped fund our top-of-the-line lab,” says senior student and 2019 Co-Salutatorian, Emma Alligood. “It’s allowed us to perform long-term collaborative projects with both UGA and GaTech.”
Local businesses like SeaChem have also provided supplies for ongoing projects like raising Tilapia in a 500-gallon tank. With proximity to two major research universities and several local high tech companies, MCHS Biotech students are uniquely situated to take advantage of the high-paying, high-demand jobs of tomorrow. Harrison says the program is currently like no other in the state and students who complete the program feel prepared for future biotech related careers because they are already familiar with the cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art equipment. The pathway is comprised of three courses and an independent study option within the school’s Academy of Science & Technology.