Release Date: Thursday, July 12, 2018

A father-daughter tech tradition takes root at HFC

photo of Jack Hart and Tori Hart

Henry Ford College is something of a family tradition for Tori Hart and her father, Jack Hart. Both graduated from HFC. Both pursued careers in computer information systems.

Tori is currently the HFC web project manager, while Jack is a software engineer/business systems analyst in San Antonio, TX.

“I find it surreal that we both accidentally found ourselves at HFC, and it turned out to be a key life experience that started our careers,” said Jack. “I’m thankful to HFC for how it’s helped my family not once, but twice by providing starting points in our careers.”

Father and daughter both have their certifications and associate degrees in CIS from HFC (although in Jack's case, it was called Henry Ford Community College back in his day). Jack earned his undergraduate degree in computer science from Excelsior College in Albany, NY. He also completed coursework at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, and Hartnell College in Salinas, CA.

“HFC classes were quite practical and hands-on in this field,” said Jack. “They were also geared to the local economy and influenced by what Ford Motor Co. needed next door.”

Tori recently graduated from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti with her undergraduate degree in technology management. She got her job at HFC through a semester-long co-op program. She was hired on full-time almost immediately, and has been in her current position for four years.

“When I came here, I took all the computer programming courses I wanted – Photoshop, Internet technology, web development,” said Tori. “One thing that made HFC very attractive was I could take what I wanted, and what I felt was interesting. I appreciated that HFC gave me a hands-on education in computer systems. Once I got my associate degree, I could transfer to EMU without losing any credits.”

From Python to Y2K and global opportunities

Tori credits her father for getting her interested in computers. While she was very young, Jack taught her computer programming in Python on a Macintosh computer.

While Tori benefitted from having a tech-savvy dad, Jack took a different route. His parents were not computer literate, but they recognized the potential in the growing field of computing. They wanted him to get involved on the ground floor. Jack recalled with a laugh how they bought him a ColecoVision Adam computer, which promptly died. Then they bought him a Commodore 64 computer, which “moved to the closet after spending weeks trying to get it to print a single line.” He was at a dead end.

But it turned out to be a temporary setback. Jack’s interest in computers reignited not long after Tori’s birth. He took computer classes at Henry Ford College after thinking about majoring in accounting, and later, English. “It just clicked for me,” he said. “I got the bug.”

Jack’s first job out of HFC was briefly working on the Y2K project for Ford in 1999. From there, he moved to Hawaii where he was part of a team that designed a software suite for the Aloha State’s Child Support Agency. His job has allowed him to travel and work all over the United States and abroad.

“My career has allowed for a decent amount of travel. When I started, most tech jobs still had a traditional expectation of being at just one place throughout a career,” said Jack. “After moving to California from Hawaii for family reasons, I stayed for a while. Now, the opportunities are all over the map – literally – from staying in one place, to remote work anywhere in the world, to traveling every few months. I’ve chosen to really get to know a place for a few years before moving on. I haven’t quite settled on a place for the long term.”

Evolution never stops

Both Harts agreed that the computer industry doesn’t stand still. It is always moving. It is always evolving. To remain competitive in this field, you never stop learning and you must be proactive in learning new software, technology upgrades, and various trends.

Tori looks forward to applying her EMU degree to her work in IT throughout her career. She’s excited to be a part of the HFC web team. In fact, she was one of the principal architects in redesigning the College’s website, which was relaunched in early July. This fall, for the first time, she will teach a course in the CIS department at HFC, as a way to pay forward the knowledge and expertise she has gained.

“I’m enjoying doing what I’m doing!” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am in my career today if it weren't for HFC. When I started, I had no real plan. I just took classes, got the help and guidance I needed, got a full-time job when I was student, and kept working while I achieved a bachelor’s degree – that’s truly amazing.”