In just a matter of weeks Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing’s (BSM) warehouse space in Lee has been transformed into clean rooms – and several Berkshire Community College (BCC) students will have played a role in the transformation.
BSM, which provides the safest sterile drug products possible for clinical use and small scale requirements, has created a paid internship program with BCC as a part of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s (MLSC) Internship Challenge, a workforce development program focused on enhancing the talent pipeline for Massachusetts companies engaged in life sciences. The program facilitates the placement of students and recent graduates who are considering career opportunities in the life sciences in paid internships across the state.
This summer, three BCC students, including a current student and recent graduates, have worked at the start-up company assisting with a variety of tasks ranging from billing, marketing and writing technical documents known as SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). The interns include: Steve Lauren, a May 2015 graduate; Serene Durham, a 2011 BCC alumna and graduate of Bay Path College, and Michael Shea, a BCC student who is studying biotechnology.
BSM, which currently has thirteen employees and has plans to hire approximately 20 more in the coming year, is constructing state of the art clean rooms which will utilize the newest technologies to manufacture sterile drug products. In addition, the company is building quality control and microbiology laboratories and office space
Dr. Shawn Kinney, BSM’s president and cofounder, commented, “we all have been impressed with the interns. They have a great work ethic, wonderful educational background and are contributing more than we could ever expect. We are striving to give them industry experience and exposure to sterile drug product manufacturing. BSM plans to continue this partnership with BCC based upon the success that we have seen working with these motivated BCC students.”
BCC’s Assistant Professor of Life Sciences Gina Foley, who has taught each of the interns, has assisted with connecting students with BSM. “The partnership between BCC and BSM is truly a perfect match. The MLSC Internship Challenge opens doors – and this is a very real example of how a private industry and college partnership can play a role in keeping STEM talent in the Berkshires,” said Foley.
Shea, who will earn his associate degree from BCC in December, said, “My internship experience has been extremely valuable. They really want us to learn and I legitimately feel like part of the BSM team.”
In addition, Eric Garlow, a BCC alumnus and Worcester State graduate, has joined BSM as a manufacturing associate.
BSM was recently named a finalist for the 12th Annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award for the expansion of its operations in Lee. The Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards have been presented since 2003 to honor companies that have made a significant impact on the Massachusetts economy.
BCC offers a biological science concentration as well as a biotechnology concentration. Both associate degree programs are closely linked to baccalaureate programs in the Commonwealth. The institution’s biotechnology concentration holds a silver level of endorsement from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Education Consortium, which demonstrates that BCC’s curricula aligns with MLSEC’s core competencies, which are developed by a working group of academic and biotechnology leaders.