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  • Students explore career options on lab tours

    Feb 06, 2015 | Read More News
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    Students from Desert View High School toured two labs at the University of Arizona Tech Park’s Arizona Center for Innovation, meeting entrepreneurs who are matching their business know-how with some science savvy to launch their own businesses. The tours were organized by Pima County One-Stop Career Center and Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners.

    Samantha Whitman, who has created a biotechnology company that prepares biological samples for research, forensic and clinical use, told students she wanted to get into exercise physiology when she was in high school.

    Tour of Grafted Growers“It’s good to have goals,” said Whitman, who now holds a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology. “But it’s totally OK to change them.”

    More than 200 Desert View students fanned out across the region Feb. 5, touring 16 manufacturers as well as Pima Community College’s machine shop, and two start-up companies at the UA Tech Park. The effort is meant to introduce students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers and occupations within the manufacturing industry.
    Many of the students on the Tech Park tour were keen on engineering careers and asked how that interest would fit in a biotech lab.

    “You can design some of this equipment,” Whitman said, motioning toward the vials and stands holding her samples. “I have no idea how to do that!”

    Students also met with John Jackson Sr. and his partner, Ricardo Hernández, founders of Grafted Growers. The company uses a controlled agricultural environment to grow high-quality vegetable transplants.

    Students lit up when Jackson told them the trays of vegetable seedlings stacked up in the lab were growing in his bedroom a few short weeks ago.

    “But each shelf here will yield $2,000 in gross revenue every 28 days,” he said.

    “How could an engineer benefit you?” asked Manuel Curiel, 17.

    “You could help us build our materials more efficiently,” said Jackson.

    Another student, Darin Colton, 18, was intrigued by Jackson’s emphasis on the importance of automation and uniformity of design in the horticultural operation. “Maybe an engineer could help you with that,” Colton observed.

    Jackson grinned. “Absolutely.”