Collaboration Fuels Biomedical Device Manufacturing Program
Medical device manufacturing is a key part of the economy in Ventura County. It’s an industry that requires knowledge in both biotechnology and manufacturing.
This unique set of skills is difficult to obtain in one program but presented the perfect opportunity for two community colleges in the Ventura County Community College District to collaborate on a certificate that prepares students for careers in this growing industry.
Moorpark College contributes the biotechnology courses, while Ventura College handles the manufacturing side of the curriculum.
“Moorpark College has an established program in Biotechnology, which is more about proteins rather than medical devices,” said Moorpark Biotechnology Instructor Subhash Karkare. “Ventura College teaches machining and manufacturing processes but doesn’t cover FDA regulations and other procedures required for the medical industry.”
The collaboration came about at a manufacturing subcommittee meeting of the Workforce Investment Board of Ventura County. Bill Pratt, Vice President at Kinamed, a Camarillo-based medical manufacturing company, discussed an impending shortage of workers as its employee base neared retirement.
Creating the Biomedical Device Manufacturing Certificate did not require any new course development, which allowed the program to get up and running pretty quickly in 2015. Upon completing the certificate, students can move directly into industry or continue to complete an associate degree.
“They can be hired as manufacturing technicians for medical devices in the production, design, or validation area,” Karkare said.
Ventura College plans to expand the curriculum by adding instruction in five-axis manufacturing, which is required to make some types of medical devices.
"The first ever part that was made for an artificial heart had to be made had to be made on a five-axis machine," said John Clark, Lead Faculty in Manufacturing Technology at Ventura College. "We hope to have it folded into the existing curriculum by next fall at latest."
Moving forward, Karkare said he hopes to recruit more students into the program so that students are ready to meet the workforce demands in Ventura County.
“Each college brings its expertise to help meet the needs of the community and the local industry,” Karkare said. “We don’t have any problems placing students from the program, but we are hoping to secure some grant funding to increase our recruiting activities.”