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New ‘connected’ lab enables in-demand skills training

TAFE Queensland Toowoomba’s new science laboratory features state-of-the-art equipment, including digitally connected microscopes, with the forward-thinking facility designed to equip students with skills for local industry.

The laboratory refurbishment project is an extension of TAFE Queensland Toowoomba’s $8.1 million Rural Centre of Excellence which opened in 2020, and complements the existing advanced training facilities for students. 

TAFE Queensland South West Region General Manager, Jenni Butler said the laboratory’s innovative design enables students to learn and use industry-specific technology, with the added benefit of connectivity capabilities with TAFE Queensland’s Bowen Agricultural Centre of Excellence and the Bundaberg Horticulture and Agriculture Training Centre.

“Equipped with the very latest in scientific technology, the facility will ensure our students are gaining job-ready skills for in-demand roles in our region, now and into the future,” Ms Butler said.

“Plus, the ability to connect with TAFE Queensland’s network of agriculture training centres provides our students with a powerful learning opportunity - comparing and considering findings with their peers around the state.”

For the first time in 2023, Certificate II Sampling and Measurement (MSL20118) and Certificate III in Laboratory Skills (MSL30118) will be available at the Toowoomba campus, with the science laboratory also utilised by students from a variety of courses including Certificate III in Animal Care Services and Certificate IV Veterinary Nursing (ACM30122/ACM40418)Certificate III in Rural Operations (AHC32816) and Certificate III in Horticulture (AHC30716).

TAFE Queensland Animal Studies and Laboratory Science Teacher, Lana Bradshaw said the skills and training delivered in the innovative facility are far reaching.

“From equipment calibrations and environmental soil and water testing, to identifying plant pest and diseases and performing animal health diagnostic tests; there are a multitude of industry applications,” Ms Bradshaw explained.

“In addition to its connectivity features, the laboratory will integrate with the Modular Farm on our campus to simulate a food production and manufacturing environment.”

“We’re looking forward to working together with local laboratories to enhance the learning experience for students and highlight real-world applications in the industry.”  Ms Bradshaw added.

Ms Bradshaw brings a wealth of knowledge to the lab, and has more than twenty years of industry experience working for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the University of Queensland Veterinary School, prior to teaching at TAFE Queensland.

With experience in veterinary research and diagnostic laboratory testing, agricultural disease investigations, quality management and plant pest and disease surveillance, Ms Bradshaw still works in the industry and is looking forward to sharing her expertise with students.

“I’m lucky that I can continue my involvement with veterinary diagnostics and research at the University of Queensland Veterinary School as a casual scientific officer, and I’m currently working with Pittsworth Landcare to establish projects to protect and monitor our local koala populations,” said Ms Bradshaw.

Beyond the agricultural, horticulture, veterinary and science training opportunities available for students at TAFE Queensland Toowoomba’s Rural Centre of Excellence and Laboratory facility, industry bodies and organisations that require skilled workers in laboratory skills can train their workforce locally at the campus.

Jobs Queensland predicts agriculture industry jobs in the Darling Downs-Maranoa region will increase by 11.5 per cent from 2020-21 to 2024-25 with a 20,000-strong workforce.