BioFabUSA, a Department of Defense-sponsored Manufacturing Innovation Institute, last week announced the launch of the Biofabrication Technician Registered Apprenticeship Program to empower America’s workforce with essential skills and knowledge for careers in the biofabrication sector while helping the Department meet the science and technology challenges for decades to come.

As an emerging engineering discipline, biotechnology can change the way DOD conducts missions and performs in contested logistics environments. Leveraging biotechnology will enable the Department to stay ahead of competitors in science and technology by taking advantage of these fast-moving technological developments.

Biofabrication uses biologic raw materials such as living cells, matrices, biomaterials, and molecules to produce novel equipment, and is a sub-discipline in biotechnology – one of 14 critical technology areas managed by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

BioFabUSA integrates innovative cell and tissue cultures with advances in biofabrication, automation, robotics, and analytical technologies to create disruptive research and development tools and FDA-compliant volume manufacturing processes. One example is a BioFabUSA-developed process that strips cells from a porcine heart to leave a “scaffold,” on which personalized human heart cells can be grown.

BioFabUSA’s Apprenticeship Program will initially focus on engaging veterans, a priority for the Department due to the valuable skills and experiences they bring to the defense manufacturing industry. Once within the program, individuals will be considered for admission into one of two tracks, the Registered Apprenticeship Program and the Embedded Certificate Program. Both tracks include potential follow-on employment by prospective employers.

Registered Apprenticeship Program

  • Dynamic Pre-Apprenticeship with Practical Skills (Two Months): Participants in this track undergo intensive training, culminating in the attainment of a Biofabrication Certificate. They can also earn industry-recognized credentials, including micro credentials provided by the Bioscience Core Skills Institute (https://www.coreskillsinstitute.com/credentials) and documented successful completion of the Biotechnician Assistant Credentialing Exam (https://biotility.research.ufl.edu/bace/).
  • On-the-Job Training Apprenticeship (12 Months): Following two months of instruction, the OJT Apprenticeship is a comprehensive year-long program that immerses participants in real-world biofabrication experiences. It provides apprentices with invaluable hands-on training that prepares them for a career in the field. The program’s launch represents the culmination of several years of dedicated development and is a pivotal step cultivating the biofabrication workforce of the future.

Embedded Certificate Program

  • Individuals who apply and are not admitted to the Registered Apprenticeship Program can still attend hands-on instruction free of charge. These participants will earn a Biofabrication Certificate and have the opportunity to earn the credentials described above.

“This new apprenticeship program is an important tool to realize BioFab’s vision of a highly diverse, competitive, and innovative domestic cell, tissue, and organ manufacturing ecosystem,” said Tracy Frost, DOD Manufacturing Technology Program Director. “Apprenticeship is one of the most effective means of bringing workers into specialized fields and BioFab’s program will train the workforce needed to support U.S. leadership in the biofabrication industrial base.”

For more information about the Biofabrication Technician Registered Apprenticeship Program and how to get involved, visit: https://www.armiusa.org/biofabusa/education-and-workforce-development/biofabrication-apprenticeship-program/

About USD(R&E)

The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the United States military’s technological advantage. Learn more at www.cto.mil, follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO, or visit us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/ousdre.

BioFabUSA is one of nine Manufacturing Innovation Institutes administered by the OSD Manufacturing Technology Program within the OUSD(R&E). The DOD MIIs seek to revitalize the U.S.’s domestic manufacturing capability through domestic public-private partnerships that enhance America’s strategic competitiveness while enabling the military of tomorrow. This is achieved through three primary activities hosted by the institutes: Advancing research and development to promote American innovation while modernizing our military capabilities; growing manufacturing ecosystems to enhance the nation’s competitiveness; and furthering education and workforce development to train Americans of all ages and backgrounds for jobs of the future. Learn more at www.dodmantech.mil.