Dr. Rohe presented NMTC Leadership Award

Published on March 1, 2024

This is a photograph of Cecil College’s Professor of Science Dr. Benjamin Rohe.

NORTH EAST, Md: Cecil College’s Professor Benjamin Rohe, Ph.D., was bestowed the Leadership Award for his work in STEM education by the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council during the Thirteenth Annual NMTC Visionary Awards.

NMTC connects collaborative leaders in academia, industry, and the federal government to build a STEM-educated workforce and advance innovation and technology to expand the state’s economy and protect national security. The 2024 Visionary Awards Gala was held at the Water’s Edge Event Center in Belcamp, Md., on Thursday, February 29.

Dr. Rohe received the Leadership Award for his work in developing Cecil College’s Associate of Applied Science in Bioproduction and a Biological Lab Skills certificate. The Bioproduction degree was developed in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson University and the Jefferson Institute for Bioproduction, ensuring currency, relevancy, and smooth articulation to a bachelor’s degree program.

“The bioproduction industry plays a large role in the region’s economic development, technological advancement, and addressing various global challenges. While the current public view of bioproduction may mostly focus on pharmaceuticals, it has a larger reach into biofuels, food, and beverage production, and even finding answers to environmental problems such as pollution from microplastics to oil spills,” said Dr. Rohe, whose team included Dr. Veronica Dougherty, Chris Warwick, Heather Cadogan, and Kayla Ross.

The certificate program is designed for students with a high school level education that can be completed in one semester, providing the basic knowledge and skills for entry-level employment in biological labs and introducing them to bioproduction and biotechnology. The curriculum allows a student to seamlessly articulate an associate degree in Biology or Bioproduction, creating opportunities for career advancement.

“Cecil College is an amazing institution that puts the student first. The faculty and staff have a student-centered philosophy that supports student success in education and workforce readiness. I consider myself lucky that I get to teach a wide range of courses in STEM and even in humanities. I aim to keep students interested in education and advancing them through to their career goals,” said Dr. Rohe, who accomplishes this by creating an engaging setting, being responsive to the student’s questions and communications, understanding their individual needs, and being respectful of their time and effort.

Under Dr. Rohe’s leadership, the College’s Biological Lab Skills certificate has won national recognition through a National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) grant.

A believer that interest in the sciences begins at a young age, Dr. Rohe is a frequent presenter in high school and middle school recruitment visits, taking the opportunity to introduce students to bioproduction. Additionally, Dr. Rohe developed a one-week summer camp for middle and high school students to be introduced to and immersed in Bioproduction. Once on campus, students find his patience and calm demeanor perfect for our introductory but highly technical courses.

He has also developed externships for students, ensuring they learn the ‘real-world’ application of the acquired knowledge and skills. His work at Cecil College and throughout the bioproduction community is opening new fields of opportunities for our students and developing a much-needed workforce in the community.

“This award provides validation for the few decades I’ve worked in the STEM field as a researcher, facility manager, and educator. Moreover, recognition in STEM is a personal achievement and inspires others, especially students and aspiring professionals, to pursue careers in these fields. It highlights the importance of science and technology in addressing regional and global challenges and hopefully encourages the students to contribute to the growing body of knowledge,” said Dr. Rohe.