A new, cutting-edge academic unit at the University of Michigan-Flint will open in 2021 that will educate and prepare students for key roles in the diverse technical career fields of the 21st century.
The Board of Regents approved the establishment of the College of Innovation & Technology at UM-Flint at its Sept. 17 meeting. UM-Flint will join a small group of universities in the state that have a college dedicated to technology degree programs.
The College of Innovation & Technology will fill a gap in the technology workforce that exists between vocational technical training offered by community colleges and the science-based bachelor’s degree programs in engineering and computer science.
It will offer four-year bachelor’s degrees in technology and prepare graduates for employment in automotive, manufacturing, artificial intelligence, health care, aerospace, cybersecurity and other sectors of the economy.
“The technology-intensive future demands that we prepare our graduates to develop and apply technology in new ways that will benefit society,” said UM-Flint Chancellor Deba Dutta. “Within this new college, faculty will encourage students to pursue creativity, innovation and entrepreneurism as they earn their technology degrees in new and emerging sectors of the economy.”
The new college is made possible, in part, by a $10 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation awarded Sept. 16. This latest grant brings the foundation’s total support for UM-Flint to nearly $74 million over more than half a century.
“I think C.S. Mott would applaud this grant,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation and great-grandson of its founder. “He once took an order for 500 automobile axles before he’d built one and then said he sweated blood to get the job done. The CIT is going to provide the kind of education and hands-on training that will produce the next generation of innovators, risk-takers and industry leaders that come from Flint.”
It is expected that this new college will sustainably grow UM-Flint’s student enrollment and positively impact the regional economy. Companies such as General Motors Corp. have expressed optimism about the prospects of the new college and how it will strengthen the state workforce in the years to come.
“General Motors has a special interest in the revitalization of Flint, the birthplace of our company. UM-Flint’s College of Innovation and Technology is a bold and compelling initiative. We look forward to working with their leadership to help shape programs that will produce highly skilled, technologically savvy, job-ready graduates to help boost regional competitiveness,” said Kimberly J. Brycz, senior vice president of Global Human Resources at General Motors.
Legislators in Lansing and Washington, D.C., are enthusiastic about the new addition to downtown Flint, and the investment in education to benefit the citizens of Michigan.
“I commend UM-Flint for announcing its new College of Innovation & Technology. The CIT will offer Michigan students an affordable STEM education, where they will receive the hands-on training and in-demand skills that they need to compete in the workforce,” said Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint.
“A STEM education opens the door to good-paying science and technology jobs that are critical to building our local and national economic competitiveness. We must make sure that we have workers ready for these jobs in the global economy.”
State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, echoed Kildee’s comments, adding, “Today’s announcement is a major win for UM-Flint, the community of Flint, employers in the state of Michigan, and most importantly, prospective students who are ready to learn the skills necessary to be successful in some of Michigan’s most in-demand careers. The CIT will fill a critical gap in our state’s education landscape, attract talent to Genesee County and bring quality jobs right here to our backyard.”
In January of this year, UM-Flint launched Project 2020, a visionary and intentional plan that outlines a set of actions to reposition the campus for the next 20 years.
The new college is the centerpiece of Project 2020, which also includes significant investment in student success initiatives, such as increasing the number of academic advisers, funding additional scholarships, and creating clear career pathways to help ensure job prospects for every UM-Flint graduate.