As a community leader in workforce development, and the second largest college in the state, Delgado Community College is involved in the reshaping of this region towards a technology-driven area. As part of this transformation towards a creative technology driven focus, Delgado has developed several programs including the Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) program. The SLT program is focused on training traditional, non-traditional, and underrepresented students in two major fields, biotechnology and chemical technology. The SLT program will serve as a direct pipeline for students to 1) progress towards advanced degrees, 2) transition directly into the technology workforce, 3) develop creative technology driven private industries. In accordance with these objectives, Delgado is devoting resources and facilities to build several advanced laboratories complete with advanced curricula including, light and electron microscopy, Real Time PCR, High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Gas Chromatography, Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry, and mammalian cell culture. This curriculum will address the needs of the current scientific community and future demands of the region by supplying a hands on approach to producing skilled program graduates.
In order to supply the skilled workforce necessary to drive this transformation towards a technology driven community the Delgado Biology department has tasked the SLT program as the major outreach arm for the early recruitment of students into the Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) fields. The approach of the Delgado SLT outreach program combines traditional lectures with first hand experiences in a laboratory setting that allows the students to learn by performing modern and classic experiments in science. In addition, the SLT outreach program will increase interest in the STEM fields by allowing students to further their experiences in science by providing two advanced courses 1) dual enrollment for university credit and 2) custom tailored advanced independent scientific investigation. These combined approaches should foster early interest in science and allow students to then pursue advanced topics in the formal SLT program or other programs.
In the spring and summer of 2014 the Delgado Biology Department began two new outreach programs enrolling students from local middle schools, high schools, and homeschooling programs as part of the Delgado SLT outreach program. During these preliminary summer programs, Delgado enrolled 141 students (119 middle school students and 22 high school students) representing students from all local parishes and all demographics. Currently we are expanding on the success of this initial investment by planning courses for the spring and summer of 2015, and have entered into agreements with organizations such as the Louisiana Girl Scouts East to provide custom workshops and classes to increase interest in the sciences.
To meet these goals, Delgado is applying for external funding for the purchasing and maintenance of advanced equipment and consumables required for these courses, and to offset the cost of support and teaching staff.