What is CBAL?
Columbia Basin Analytical Laboratories is a joint venture between Columbia Basin College (CBC) and RJ Lee Group, Inc. The partnership, begun in 2001, drove construction of Center for Laboratory Sciences (CLS), a 15,000-square foot facility completed in 2005. In 2014, CLS changed its name to Columbia Basin Analytical Laboratories (CBAL) to emphasize the connection between the college, the laboratory, and its location.
Why is CBAL Unique?
The goal of the joint venture was to create one of the first public-private partnerships in the state of Washington that would focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, while providing students with commercial laboratory skills. Today, the laboratory is used as a resource for demonstrating day-to-day laboratory techniques and procedures, as well as to promote the conception and execution of unique research projects.
What Experiences Does CBC Offer Students?
The CBC-RJ Lee Group partnership extends to student interns. Both paid (work study and non-work study) and volunteer internships are offered to CBC students, allowing them to prepare real samples, operate advanced instrumentation, and analyze data.
CBC students and faculty, working with RJ Lee Group scientists and management, were instrumental in building a mobile laboratory to conduct real-time measurement of toxic compounds in air using state-of-the-art instrumentation. The van is outfitted with a leading-edge proton transfer reaction mass spectrophotometer (PTR-MS) and supporting gas chromatographic mass spectrometers that work in tandem during sampling analyses. Students have experienced environmental monitoring using the capabilities of the mobile laboratory when accompanying scientists to sampling sites. To see the video, please click here.
Student interns at CBC were also able to experience a real-world project required by a Hanford site subcontractor, who needed a unique setup for particle size determination within their simulants. Along with RJ Lee Group scientists and technicians, they adapted a historical method to 21st century standards to provide the required precision and accuracy. The results had a critical impact to the overarching engineering development work provided to the Department of Energy.
These experiences are invaluable to those students who want to pursue their education further and those who do not. Working in a real-time, commercial laboratory provides insight into making decisions based on their experiences. In either case, the internships provides an advantage in future studies or in the job market, based on their knowledge of laboratory standard operating procedures, chemical standards and instrument operation.