During the last 25 years the fields of genetics and biotechnology have undergone dramatic expansion, powered by our understanding of DNA and how fragments of genetic code may be analyzed, combined and utilized. The impact of these discoveries has spread across human health, agriculture, energy and defense, giving rise to new careers around the world.

The workforce that propels this industry forward must be versed in the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. This requires educational experiences that strengthen knowledge in genetics and biotechnology core concepts. Simultaneously, in order to become informed consumers, the public must also develop a familiarity with genetics, albeit at a general level.

With these challenges in mind, the educational programming at HudsonAlpha prepares the future biotechnology workforce and cultivates genetic literacy for all citizens. We strive to create engaging experiences, provide clear content through effective delivery systems and minimize barriers to access.

Educational outreach has been an active part of HudsonAlpha since 2006, today reaching over 200,000 individuals each year. HudsonAlpha integrates inquiry-based activities into classrooms and places comprehensive digital applications onto student computers and handheld devices. We have initiated a series of intensive professional development opportunities for educators, incorporating the newest scientific discoveries for classroom inclusion. An engaging series of summer camps and a highly respected student intern program broaden the pipeline for workforce development. A popular public seminar series is transforming Huntsville into one of the most genetically literate communities in America.

These programs have been developed very deliberately, extending from student to teacher to adult education. The circular pathway of lifelong learning begins at HudsonAlpha, continues through the educational and public sectors and returns to the Institute, accompanied by a biotechnology–literate workforce and a more informed public.