Get to Know HFC: Joe Zarka sets a high goal for skilled trades
After teaching part-time for five years, HFC manufacturing instructor Joe Zarka is now a full-time faculty member.
“Being full-time is great. I was attracted to a full-time position due to increased teaching opportunities and classroom setting. I have a whole new set of responsibilities, though; that comes with the territory,” said Zarka.
A Taylor native, Zarka is one of three children. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Taylor. A veteran of the United States Air Force, Zarka enrolled in HFC (then called Henry Ford Community College), where he earned his associate degree in machine tool technology. He also has three journeyman cards: toolmaker, diemaker, and CNC machinist. Zarka lives in New Boston with Sheila, his wife of 23 years. Together, they have three adult children – a son and two daughters.
Zarka has worked in the skilled trades since he was 18. Before coming to HFC, he worked as a tool and die maker and machine specialist at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn. He also served as a mentor to new employees and apprentices in his department. That inspired him to go into teaching.
Passing on knowledge of the skilled trades
“I love to share knowledge and have people carry on the skilled trades. I love showing apprentices the skills I know and passing that on to them. I want to be an example for my students,” he said. “I love my career and my job. It’s been a highly paid hobby for many years now. I enjoy sending people into this field with the experience needed to get them going and keep them growing with the benefits of a great and lucrative career.”
Zarka reports to Guy Pizzino, who is the lead faculty for machine tool technology at HFC.
"Joe comes to HFC from Ford where he was a highly qualified CNC machinist," said Pizzino. "His passion to connect with students and help them discover the love for machining is apparent from the moment you step into his classroom. Joe is going to be an integral part of our new Department of Design and Manufacturing in the School of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Development."
Zarka spoke about his ultimate goal at HFC.
“I want to retire as an instructor who built our skilled trades program into a national benchmark,” he said. “I want to set an example for other schools to follow our lead.”