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HFCC prepares workforce for new economy

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As Henry Ford Community College celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2008-09, it has created new programs to help strengthen the current economic climate and better prepare students for the changing workforce. Over the past year, HFCC has created programs for the film industry, the biotechnology industry and alternative energy industry.

To assist in the economic development of southeast Michigan and help develop a workforce for the state’s burgeoning feature film production industry, the Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC) at HFCC is offering ongoing two-week courses to prepare people for entry-level employment in the film and television industry.

Partners in this workforce development project are the Office of the Wayne County Executive, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (DLEG), the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) and TicTock Studios of Holland, MI.

Goals of the program are to help put Michigan's unemployed residents back to work and provide a trained local workforce to complement the incentives being offered by the state of Michigan to draw the feature film industry to Michigan, said HFCC President Gail Mee.

'We are very pleased to be a partner in revitalizing the economy of southeast Michigan by training people for job opportunities in the growing film industry,' said Mee. 'Henry Ford Community College’s mission is to provide needed education and training for local residents and employers and our Michigan Technical Education Center specializes in customized training for business and industry.'

Basic Film Set Training, offered by Henry Ford Community College and TicTock Studios, is a 40-hour course conducted over a two-week period and is designed to provide intensive, hands-on training to prepare individuals for entry-level employment in the film and television industry.

For more information, please call the Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC) at Henry Ford Community College at 313-317-6600. M-TEC is located at 3601 Schaefer Road in Dearborn.

To prepare students for work in the growing biotechnology industry, the HFCC Science Division and local biotechnology companies have created a new Biotechnology Technician Training Program. After earning an associate’s degree or certification in the program, students will be able to acquire an entry-level job in the field or continue their studies at a four-year university, according to Charlie Jacobs, associate dean of the Science Division.

'Students in the new Biotechnology Technician Training program will gain a lot of experience in the field of biotechnology,' says Jolie Stepaniak, HFCC science instructor. 'They can use the experience from the program to get a job with a biotechnology company or to continue their education in the biotechnology field.'

The Biotechnology Technician Training program teaches students how to use HFCC’s new DNA sequencer, which will give students an understanding of DNA and genetic processes. While using the machine, students will cut out pieces of DNA from organisms and study the genes, according to Jacobs.

'The main thing biotechnicians do is study the genes of organisms,' says Jacobs. 'Students in the program will learn how to do that and determine DNA bases with the sequencer.'

According to Jacobs, the HFCC Biotechnology Technician Training program is currently working on creating a state-of-the-art laboratory, which will resemble an actual biotechnology lab, and will further help prepare students to become technicians in the industry. In addition, the program will be obtaining instruments to help students learn gene cloning and protein work.

Instruments like the DNA sequencer will not only be helpful to those going into the biotechnology industry, it will also be a centerpiece for students interested in forensics, research laboratory work, hospital labs and DNA analysis, according to Stepaniak.

'Students in this program will be able to use equipment that’s really state-of-the-art,' says Stepaniak. 'This will allow students to get hands-on access to machines you would be able to find in a scientific research lab and prepare them for jobs in the field.'

Lastly, HFCC has created a variety of alternative energy courses to train workers for a new generation of 'green' jobs. The new programs are part of a campus-wide sustainability effort to institute environmentally friendly practices, including promoting and practicing energy efficiency, and incorporating green technology into the HFCC academic and career programs.

HFCC offers five courses on renewable energy courses through the Energy Technology Program, according to Greg Laskowsky, HFCC Energy Technology instructor. The courses are Survey of Renewable Energy Sources (REEN101); Geothermal Systems (REEN110); Wind Source and Fuel Technology (REEN120); Smart Home Control Technology (REEN130) and Co-generation and Power Backup Systems (REEN140). For more information about the renewable energy courses and HFCC please visit

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