HFCC program aims for streamlined, innovative manufacturing curriculum

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A new division at Henry Ford Community College is striving for flexibility and innovation in its curriculum to manufacturing students.

The Center for Innovation in Manufacturing Education — CIMed — is a recently established educational division that seeks to manage and consolidate how the college runs its manufacturing classes and programs.

“Our vision is to become a dynamic provider of educational training solutions needed by the manufacturing community and students,” said Tracy Pierner, HFCC vice president of Academic Affairs for Career and Technical Programs. “We will be providing quality technical instruction in courses, certificates and programs that will meet the immediate needs of the manufacturing community.”

The consolidation will allow the college to reduce the pieces of equipment and square footage on campus currently used for the manufacturing programs and also increase the amount of sharing of courses and credits between the programs.

Pierner also said the educational model also will fit apprenticeships, customized training and academic programs.

“We’re going to be all about access and flexibility,” Pierner said. “We’re going to make sure we’re teaching students not only today’s technology, but we’re also going to be imbedding those skills that will transcend technology as it changes.”

Changes to the flexibility of the program would allow slower students to take more time to learn the material and conversely allow students who advance quickly to move ahead.

There will also be changes to the traditional course construction in the division, as students will receive credit for the work they complete whether they finish the course or not.

“If a student is only able to complete two-thirds of the course due to an emergency coming up, they will get those credits and be able to return and simply make up that last third of the course rather than having to take the whole thing again,” Pierner said.

Pierner added that with CIMed the college is looking to break the four- and five-credit hour classes into smaller modules to allow greater flexibility and to retain more students in the programs.

“We eventually want to have a menu of options where the student or a company can design their own path through the program to fit their needs,” Pierner said.

The division will integrate the activities of the $15 million U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant that was awarded to HFCC and a consortium of 13 other community colleges in 10 states. HFCC is spearheading the program.

Pierner said the grant is focused on “program improvements in competency-based curricula and hands-on experience, skills assessment, evaluation and standards review, technology and digital factory systems integration, and the expansion of learning pathways, including apprenticeship and internship models.”

“We are enhancing the quality of manufacturing education through choice,” Pierner said. “By offering more and more delivery models the student is able to match what works for them to their needs.”

CIMed will be led by an interim associate dean and will have five DOL-funded positions as well as seven faculty members.

Pierner said that the re-alignment of the manufacturing programs is complete but curriculum development under the division is ongoing. He added that the timetable is to have CIMed set up and ready to run some pilot classes in the fall 2014 semester.

Full implementation of the program is expected to begin in the fall 2015 semester.

“When we get done we will serve the community in ways we haven’t been able to before,” Pierner said.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)