Vivian Ngan-Winward, PhD, CQIA, CCT, CQE
Biomanufacturing Mentor and National Science Foundation Grant Principal Investigator
After spending a number of years as a scientist in both research & development and regulatory affairs areas, it became obvious to me that my science education path through college and graduate school did not get me “job ready” in the biotechnology industry. In fact, the education paths of most coworkers around me did not prepare them fully either.
Here is what I observed. As a graduate of a science major, you certainly become well-versed in some, or even a lot, of scientific principles and theories, but this knowledge is just knowledge, taking up room in your grey matter, UNTIL you unleash its POTENTIAL – by APPLYING it. Sadly, most people’s college experience do not include an opportunity to rigorously apply all acquired knowledge to figure out what they really know, what they are capable of doing, and . . . what they still need to learn.
Somehow, I lucked out. I had been a very inquisitive kid, driving family, nearby adults, and even some teachers nutty with my incessant questions “Why?”. By the 10th grade, this developed into a strong desire to pursue research in the field of genetics. Once in college, I successfully convinced a genetics professor to let me join his lab as an undergraduate researcher. So through my junior and senior years, and continuing on through graduate school and my postdoc years, I worked alongside graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, staff researchers, and the professor, LEARNING, APPLYING, and MASTERING as much genetics and molecular biology that I could, and taking note of all the things I still needed, wanted, to learn.
With a bachelor’s degree in genetics and a doctorate in molecular biology in hand, I figured I should be set for a career in life science research. Well, in terms of the biological sciences, and even some of the other sciences, I had a wealth of information and practical hands-on experience that served me well. However, after transitioning from an academic environment to a biotech business industry environment, I was absolutely shocked, almost horrified, to learn that I understood very little about the BUSINESS SIDE of the biotech industry – that is, how does a developed idea become transformed into a manufactured product that has been deemed acceptable to sell? Alas, I was not alone in this situation.
This realized deficiency forced much “ON-THE-JOB” learning and training for me and many of my coworkers as we struggled to figure out how to cooperate, collaborate, and contribute as team members, how to navigate a work environment controlled by quality system and FDA requirements, and how to complete projects by the oftentimes unrealistic deadlines imposed by our supervisors. New for me was the important need to work with others outside my area, CROSSING INTO TERRITORY unfamiliar, such as having to map out the cost of manufacturing a potential new product, assist with creating marketing materials, work with engineers to solve a critical equipment problem, and coordinating with production to manufacture pilot lots of a soon-to-be-released product.
Life lessons such as these have become the motivation behind my desire to create STUDENTfacturED, a biotechnology manufacturing company run by students. As the Salt Lake Community College’s Biomanufacturing Program Director, I realized the value of giving students the opportunity to apply and integrate concepts and skills learned in preparatory courses and elsewhere, in order to get practical training that is not only relevant to but highly desirable by the current job market. Through STUDENTfacturED, SLCC students can now get on-the-job training BEFORE their jobs. I am ecstatic to be a part of this innovative learning community and look forward to serving students and watching them develop into working professionals.
- BSc in Biology (Genetics) from University of British Columbia, 1987
- PhD in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry from Wesleyan University, 1991
- Lead Scientist in Regulatory Affairs / Scientist in Food Safety at Idaho Technology, Salt Lake City, UT
- Scientist at KK Biomed, Salt Lake City, UT
- Research & Development Project Manager at ThauMDx, Santa Barbara, CA
- Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
- American Society for Quality Certified Quality Improvement Associate
- American Society for Quality Certified Calibration Technician
- American Society for Quality Certified Quality Engineer