Ferris State Brings Training To GR


    GRAND RAPIDS — The Technology Transfer Center (TTC) of Ferris State University has provided training programs for over 1,000 businesses from its Big Rapids campus since 1984, and now its local center is open.

    But now Grand Rapids is getting a closer look at the services offered by the university with the TTC also located in the Applied Technology Center at 115 Fountain NE.

    Ferris State brought the center here just nine months ago, offering the same line of training and consulting services that are available in Big Rapids, and on a timely basis.

    “We provide a wide variety of training programs to businesses that they may want in a shorter time frame than they would get in a normal credit offering,” said Debbie Thalner, assistant dean and executive director of Corporate and Professional Development Services.

    “It may be even some of the same content, but in shorter modules — perhaps even customized to that company.”

    A program can run anywhere from four to 40 hours, she said, depending on a company’s need.

    For example, the TTC can take sections from its construction management curriculum and offer a company just the segments that it wants, saving the firm time and money.

    “Often, a company just needs a portion of what is in a regular credit program, Thalner said.

    “Our offerings would be anywhere from things for shop-floor employees running machinery, running plastic-injection molding machines, for example, all the way through managerial-type training, strategic planning and e-commerce.”

    Changing technology is one reason, she said, why industrial firms tend to be the center’s larger client group. Another, Thalner said, is that manufacturing applications is a strong area in the Ferris program.

    “We’re able to go into some niche areas within manufacturing,” she said.

    Health, plastics, business leadership, heavy equipment and automotive are a few more of the areas that Ferris covers.

    Consulting, certification and multimedia services, along with technical advice on designing processes, re-engineering and laying out floor plans, are also offered. And the TTC takes the training programs to the worksite.

    “Typically, we’ll go right into that particular facility and offer them right on site,” said Thalner.

    Consortia training is the latest addition to the TTC line-up. It’s aimed at making programs more affordable for smaller companies.

    “A lot of companies maybe don’t have the people to warrant a full customized training program in-house,” Thalner said.

    “So we’re promoting consortia, where we group companies together and they pay an entrance fee to get into the consortia. That buys them 80 hours of training for the year,” she said. “They determine what the training topics are and when they’ll be given.”

    The TTC also writes and administers grant applications, including Michigan Economic Development Job Training grants. More information on the TTC offerings is available at www.ttc.ferris.edu and (888) 378-4378.

    Thalner said it was too early to tell which of the TTC programs will be the most popular here, as the facility hasn’t been open long enough for a trend to develop.

    But one area has received a lot of initial interest locally, she said.

    “I think certainly at the technician level and the engineering level. Those programs that we offer there are very popular because we’re able to bring applications-based training to the companies so they get actual hands-on work as well as some theoretical work,” she said.

    “We’re real new here. Of course, we’ve had credit programs here for quite some time,” she added. “But we’re still growing and trying to learn the area.”

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