Technology Access Foundation

Technology Access Foundation Interns

The partnership between the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Academy and the Fred Hutch was actually initiated by TAF Academy leadership. This alternative public school practices project-based learning and authentic individual work, a learning model that encourages deep exploration of the “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. They try to provide every student with some exposure to real life experiences that utilize STEM expertise.                                  

Given their educational philosophy, TAF Academy leadership was willing to partner with Dr Torok-Storb who proposed an innovative program that provides 90 hours of instruction during the school year, followed by 8-week, 40 hours per week summer internships.  Selected students start in 10th grade and continue for 3 years. The program is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH. The goal of the program is to promote diversity in the biomedical research workforce by providing students with experiences, scientific content, and professional mentoring that will increase their likelihood of attending college and obtaining a graduate degree in science. The rationale for the three-year program design is based on the understanding that the greatest impact on student development is achieved with programs that are introduced early and then sustained.

Technology Access Foundation intern

Each of the six students currently in the program receives support from an individual supplement to Dr. Torok-Storb’s NHLBI grant U01 HL099993. They receive a stipend, subsidized lunches and travel expenses. Each supplement also has a supply budget for laboratory expenses. Three of these students will be graduating in June, and are encouraged by how well their experience at the Hutch was received during college interviews.

One of the more important results of this program was the creation of the Hutch Training Lab. Since Washington State EH&S Guidelines prohibit exposing minors to hazardous materials commonly found in most research labs, it was necessary to create a fully equipped lab that would be free of hazards. With the generosity of the members of the Basic Sciences Division who have “loaned” a lab, as well as many Hutch colleagues, and the Northwest Association of Biomedical Researchers (NWABR) who have donated time and equipment, the training lab exists. The lab is available to other groups, as are the lesson plans developed for the TAF students (Contact Lori Blake for details).

Finally, this program is made possible by the Hutch culture which encourages and values educational outreach. A clear secondary goal of this effort is to provide incentive and opportunity for more scientists to participate as teachers and mentors.