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Future-Proofing Life sciences Talent in the Cincinnati Region

Butler Tech Bioscience Center Students


REDI Cincinnati’s Talent Director, Adam Jones, had an opportunity to speak with Butler Tech’s Superintendent & CEO Jon Graft and Assistant Superintendent Marni Durham on how they are disrupting the traditional model of education and leading an educational revolution right here in the Cincinnati region. This 5-minute Q&A highlights Butler Tech’s expanding Bioscience Center and explains how they are filling the biomedical talent pipeline for our region.

  • Butler Tech has experienced incredible growth over the years. Can you tell us about the school’s philosophy and how it is benefiting employers in this region?

    Marni Durham: We believe that Butler Tech is leading the educational revolution in the Cincinnati region. Our mantra is disruption. We know that we have a responsibility to make the school schedule student-friendly, which allows students to have a voice and a choice in how they learn. Butler Tech collaborates with students and industries in the region to infuse both dialogs into our teaching so that students have a passion and a purpose for why they are doing what they are doing. And, the benefit is that students get the real hands-on experience to bridge the skills gap between education and the workplace. Brand new, (and one of a kind) is Butler Tech’s “Fifth Day Experience.” This program disrupts the traditional school calendar. Students come to school four days a week and can choose anything they want for the fifth day; they are not required to attend school. During this program, students communicate how they would like to enhance their personal growth on the fifth day. They can do anything from cooking classes to taking a college course. We have students that pick up welding or use the time for college visits and internships.

    Jon Graft: We believe we are disrupting the status quo that has been traditional education for 150 years and we are “future-proofing” jobs for our students.

  • Focusing on bioscience industry, how has Butler Tech seen the region’s biomedical growth firsthand?

    Jon Graft: We’ve seen major movements in the biomedical space within the last six months. There are real opportunities in onshoring the intellectual property and manufacturing support of medical manufacturing that the biomedical industry needs right now during COVID-19. Ramping up talent and partnerships has been Butler Tech’s main priority. We are raising our hands to say, “we are ready to return the medical supply chain models to the United States, and we have that talent right here in the Cincinnati region.” Our Bioscience Innovation Center expansion is a recent development for us and enables us to highlight both high school and adult education programs. We are partnering with schools and companies for a collaborative path forward in the Cincinnati region.

  • Give REDI Cincinnati the “411” on the Bioscience Center Campus.

    Marni Durham: First, from a demand standpoint, we have seen a high level of students interested in our programs and businesses interested in connecting with our students.

    Jon Graft: We started in 2015 with the expansion of this campus and we’ve had to already add a second floor to accommodate the growth. We are at 340 students at the West Chester campus now. Here, high school students can take 23 entry-level college courses and medical programs. We have a biomedical engineering course for high school students that is a two-year program. That program is a defining introduction and allows students multiple avenues—whether it is going into laboratory science or study biology to follow the pre-med track.

  • Can you speak to Butler Tech’s partnerships with healthcare facilities and medical-oriented businesses in the Cincinnati region?

    Jon Graft: We have a direct relationship with every hospital network in the region. We also have great relationships with the universities so that our students can trickle into local programs and continue to fill the talent pipeline here. Additionally, our relationship with companies that are in the biomedical field has continued to grow and flourish. The primary reason is that companies see their skills gaps widening and their desire to continue to build their industries is only relative to their ability to fill positions of the competency that we are building on our campuses. Butler Tech is a true talent solution in the Cincinnati region.

  • Have you seen a recent pivot on the traditional patient care focus to now, developing new biomedical technologies to support research and development in the Cincinnati region?

    Jon Graft: Yes. A lot of people when they think of the medical industry, they think of patient care—not necessarily the technology. We see the need for technology right now during COVID-19 with the race to get a vaccine. There is a swell right here in the state of Ohio because we have incredibly strong hospital networks—the best in the nation. With those strong networks as our region’s foundation, research and development are a natural progression for the Cincinnati region.

    Marni Durham: We have a great relationship with AstraZeneca, which is one of the leading companies distributing a vaccine for COVID-19. We had interns that worked in the sterilization lab at the manufacturing site in West Chester. How empowering it is to give students at that age a role and a glimpse into the future of medicine.

  • How else is Butler Tech innovating at the Bioscience Center campus?

    Marni Durham: We are making investments in people and tools. Butler Tech understands the value of workforce diversity. Our medical facilities work with Project LIFE students with special needs. They are having tremendous success in placing students into the workforce. We also have innovative tools like the simulation man – a robot that blinks, cries, dilates his eyes, experiences a change in heart rate, etc. We believe it is crucial to give students training scenarios to prepare them for their future roles. As Jon mentioned earlier, we are future-proofing jobs for our students and giving them the tools for future success in the Cincinnati region.


For more information on Butler Tech’s Bioscience Center, visit: