Release Date: 
Tuesday, January 1, 2019

HFC receives nearly $7 million in state funding for new Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute

HFC Technology Building, main campus

Photo: HFC Technology building, main campus

To boost Michigan’s future workforce, the state legislature granted Henry Ford College capital outlay funding to move forward with its new Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute / Technology Building Renovation and Addition. This $14.9 million project has been a top priority for the College for the past several years. With the approved funding, the state will provide $6.7 million toward the project. Henry Ford College will provide the remaining $8.2 million.

The Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute / Technology Building Renovation and Addition will transform the College’s 51-year-old Technology Building to meet the growing needs of Michigan’s workforce. The future of industry and business in our state depends on skilled, professional workers who are proficient with state-of-the-art technology and have high-level problem solving abilities.

The future of fields such as automotive technology, advanced manufacturing, computer-aided design and engineering, robotics, mechatronics, welding, computer programming, cybersecurity, and systems engineering will require partnerships, technology, and exceptional training. Workers will need to combine and connect knowledge across multiple specialties.

Henry Ford College has always trained students to engage with rapidly emerging technologies with an innovative, entrepreneurial mindset. The Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute will provide the highest quality technical programming and career training, creating graduates who will address the evolving needs of business and industry in Southeast Michigan.

"Our students and our business partners expect us to prepare highly skilled workers who are ready to contribute when they graduate," said HFC President Russell Kavalhuna. "We are proud of our graduates’ success as workforce leaders. Henry Ford College is an active partner in keeping Michigan's manufacturing and businesses competitive in our state and region."

Project plans and renovations

The Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute project plan includes renovation of 18,000 square feet in the Technology building, and construction of 24,000 square feet of new space. Planned project components include such items as:

  1. Transportation/Automotive Technology Program. In partnership with Ford Motor Company, the ASSET program for training technicians is now provided in schools across the country. The new project is planned to provide more vehicle lab space to continue support of the dynamometer technician certification program, and new programming for Connected Autonomous Vehicles (driverless cars).

  2. Fabrication Lab. The plan is for the welding lab, precision machining, and computer-aided design to come together in one continuous SuperLab space. This model is used by many design and fabrication companies. It provides students a real-world educational experience.

  3. Product Development Center (“Maker Space”). The Maker Space is planned to be a collaboration zone connecting students, faculty, industry partners, potential employers, and entrepreneurs with a central location and resources for idea sharing, innovative design work, and manufacturing.

  4. Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Business Skills Center. This new center is expected to be next to the technology labs. A planned Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship Certificate will prepare students to start or grow their own business. The program will focus on business development strategies and product refinement. It will develop students’ skills in accounting and finance, customer service, marketing, management, and entrepreneurial networking.

  5. HFC Advanced Manufacturing Early College. The advanced manufacturing dual enrollment program with Dearborn Public Schools and other schools requires more space than is currently available. Enrollment of high school students seeking college degrees through this program is expected to exceed 200 by fall 2020.

  6. Improved Learning Spaces in the Technology Building. Renovations are expected to include much-needed upgrades to at least nine existing classrooms and instructional labs. This will improve flexibility and connectivity in a hands-on educational setting.

Overall, the renovations and improvements comprising the Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute project will benefit more than 3,200 students per year. The project will encompass dozens of programs including industrial technology, information technology and computer information systems, pre-education, dual enrollment, and apprenticeships.

A collective effort for the future of our workforce

Kavalhuna noted that the advance planning and preparation for this funding request required years of work by countless faculty and staff at the College, as well as other partners, including a previous president; several vice presidents; the dean of the School of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Development; the HFC Board of Trustees, and many others. Gratitude is also due to state legislators who supported the capital outlay request, including Representative Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), Representative Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), and Senator David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights).

“These improvements will take our FutureDriven technical and workforce education to the next level,” said Kavalhuna. “We are grateful to the citizens of our state and the legislature for funding this project. We have excellent faculty and staff in place to ensure success. Henry Ford College students are highly talented and dedicated, and they are the future of our state’s workforce.”

Related content: Hammoud, Santana, and Knezek secure $6.7 million in funding for Henry Ford College (Press & Guide)