Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Frequently asked questions

What are the general lab skills I’ll have if I get the AAS degree?

Students who complete the requirements for the degree will gain useful basic skills including:

  • Applied laboratory math
  • Buffer, solution, and media preparation
  • Aseptic technique
  • Cell culture and TC room maintenance
  • Metrology (pH meter, volume, mass measurements, and calibration)
  • Micropipette skill and accuracy
  • Assay methods (protein, nucleic acid, enzyme)
  • Safety: general lab, chemical, biological, and industrial concepts
  • Laboratory documentation (notebook, SOPs, logs, report writing)
  • Laboratory and equipment maintenance
  • Information access (eg. FDA, ATCC, vendor sites)

I’m very interested in working at a company that makes real products, but I heard that I need to learn more about the FDA and GMP before working in a regulated environment. Will I learn this at PCC?

Yes. These important topics are woven into many of our courses. Also, you will take a class called “Quality Systems” in which you’ll learn the following and more:

  • Activities and jurisdiction of federal regulatory agencies (FDA, USDA, EPA)
  • Quality documentation types
  • Validation
  • cGMP
  • Change control
  • Approval processes for new products

I have already taken a lot of science courses, but I feel like I still haven’t learned how to do real techniques like the ones I see in job ads. Will I learn advanced methods in this program?

Yes! This is usually our students’ favorite part of the program. You will have opportunities to become proficient in many techniques that are commonly used in biotechnology labs, including:

  • Electrophoresis (protein, DNA)
  • Column chromatography (eg. IEC, SEC)
  • Protein purification
  • Cell culture, transfection, transformation
  • Immuno techniques (ELISA, Western, IP)
  • Recombinant DNA techniques (subcloning, analysis)
  • PCR
  • Basic bioinformatics (eg. BLAST analysis)

Will I get to do these advanced techniques myself, instead of just watching my lab partners?

We feel very strongly about this one! Our goal is to help you become capable and proficient with all the techniques we teach. Students in our advanced courses usually work with only one partner and because you will be learning how the methods are applied in a real workplace-type environment, we will provide ample opportunities to repeat and practice, and even to plan and troubleshoot. Teamwork and cooperation are also expected. No worries. There is always plenty of work to be done during lab activities, just as in the real world.

Besides the technology, what else will I learn that would help me succeed in a job?

You will also take courses like chemistry, biology, math, and writing. Also, you will complete general education courses. For these, we advise you to choose courses such as philosophy, speech communication, advanced writing, economics, or anything that will help you develop more knowledge and abilities to excel in your chosen career path.

As a student in our Bioscience Technology courses, your instructors will provide guidance as you develop professional skills such as:

  • Teamwork
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking
  • Troubleshooting
  • Multitasking and task scheduling
  • Communication: oral, written, electronic
  • Application of basic knowledge in new learning situations
  • Resume writing and interviewing