SkillsUSA Rhode Island Launching First-Ever Bioscience Competition

Pilot contest developed and facilitated by RI educators and industry to welcome 35-40 students as it is prepared for national adoption.

Providence, RI, February 07, 2013 --( Rhode Island is leading the way for student bioscience education and skills development as it provides a home for the Rhode Island chapter of the nationally-recognized career, STEM, and trade organization, SkillsUSA, to hold its first-ever high school biotech competition. Working with Tech Collective and the URI Providence Biotechnology Center, the competition will be held on Saturday, March 9th, 2013 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm at the URI Feinstein Campus.

The SkillsUSA Rhode Island biotechnology contest has been developed by Rhode Island science educators and will be facilitated and judged with the help of local industry professionals. 35-40 students from seven RI high schools and career and tech centers are expected to participate. Upon evaluation, the competition is anticipated to be adopted by SkillsUSA chapters nationally.

For the competition, students will demonstrate an understanding of and proficiency in bioscience procedures and techniques by preparing a gel and buffers, running the gel and staining it for visualization, and then analyzing the gel using a molecular ruler/ DNA marker.

“SkillsUSA Rhode Island is proud to be partnering with Tech Collective in adding Biotechnology to our list of over 50 competitive events for students enrolled in career and technical education,” said Josh Klemp, state executive director for SkillsUSA Rhode Island. “The development of this event has truly been a collaboration between industry and education working together to ensure that each student excels.”

Christina Befumo, lab manager of the University’s Biotechnology Center agrees: “The faculty and staff of the University of Rhode Island’s Providence Biotechnology Center are looking forward to interacting with the students and teachers participating in the SkillsUSA biotechnology competition. We are pleased to host this new event in partnership with Tech Collective, it serves as a great opportunity to introduce these young, enthusiastic students to the expansive field of Biotechnology.”

Participating Rhode Island high schools and career and tech centers are those with established bioscience programs engaging students in the processes, methodology, and general understanding of the industry. Each school is permitted to enter up to five students into the competition. Students will compete individually. Participating schools are: Burrillville HS, Coventry HS, Davies CTHS (Lincoln), Juanita Sanchez HS (Providence), Woonsocket CTC, Warwick Veterans Memorial HS, and Mt. Hope HS (Bristol/Warren).

Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Rhode Island NSF EPSCoR are sponsors of the biotech competition. Student winners will be announced at SkillsUSA Rhode Island's annual recognition ceremony on March 27th, 2013 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence.

“The biosciences are a growing industry and a valuable career path both for our emerging workforce and the companies who will employ them,” said JoAnn Johnson, manager of youth and education programs at Tech Collective. “Bioscience and STEM-focused initiatives – such as SkillsUSA Rhode Island’s – are critical components of engaging and raising awareness of these opportunities, not just to students, but to educators, parents, and the community at large as well. We are proud to work with SkillsUSA Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island Providence Biotechnology Center, and the local high schools and career and tech centers to host this student biotechnology competition – the first ever in our state and across the nation, but certainly not the last!”

About SkillsUSA Rhode Island
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student to excel. SkillsUSA is a national organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations, including health occupations and for further education. SkillsUSA was formerly known as VICA (the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America). Learn more at

About Tech Collective
Tech Collective is Rhode Island’s Information Technology and Bioscience Industry Association. Uniting industry, government and academic stakeholders, our mission is to inspire, engage, educate and employ a high-skill, high-wage Knowledge Economy in Rhode Island. Since its transition from the Rhode Island Technology Council (RITEC) in 2004, Tech Collective has received more than $8M in federal, state and private grant funding to foster industry collaboration, awareness and development through events and initiatives including: Tech10, GRRL Tech, Women in Technology, Bio-Ed, and STEM-based education and training programs for K-16 students as well as incumbent and transitioning workers. Get connected to Tech Collective at, on Facebook (TechCollectiveRI), and on Twitter (@Tech_Collective)
Tech Collective
Giselle Mahoney, Manager of Communications and Media Relations
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