Henry Ford College to Provide “Operation Next” Advanced Manufacturing Training with LIFT

The college will provide hands-on, performance-based training in robotics and industrial technology maintenance.

DETROIT – LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, today announced that it has partnered with Henry Ford College to provide advanced manufacturing training opportunities through the institute’s “Operation Next” program.

“Operation Next” is an innovative, self-paced, manufacturing-focused training and credentialing program, which blends hands-on learning with virtual learning available to employees of Detroit-area small and medium-sized manufacturers and displaced workers to help them recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is also open to members of the Michigan National Guard and Reserve and to civilians in the Detroit area, providing students the opportunity to earn industry recognized, nationally portable credentials for their next careers. Through funding provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and awarded to LIFT by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as from a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Manufacturing Engineering Education Program, training will be provided at no cost to the individual or their employer.

Space is limited, so interested students should register today!

Henry Ford College will serve as a performance-based training provider offering hands-on training for the Industrial Technology Maintenance (ITM) and Robotics Technician majors in “Operation Next.” The performance-based training for the Welding and CNC Machining majors will be held at the LIFT Learning Lab in Detroit. Earlier this year, LIFT partnered with Macomb Community College to provide similar hands-on and performance-based training.

Both ITM and Robotics Technicians are some of the most in-demand advanced manufacturing jobs in the country, with nearly 40,000 combined job openings annually over the next eight years.

Industrial Maintenance Technicians install, repair, and maintain commercial or industrial machinery in buildings, a plant, or a manufacturing setting, ensuring all machines function properly through troubleshooting and preventive maintenance service. Robotics Technicians build, install, test, or maintain robotic equipment or related automated production systems.

“Henry Ford College is in the center of Michigan’s manufacturing sector, and we are proud to join with LIFT and “Operation Next” in connecting students to advanced manufacturing careers,” said Patricia Chatman, Ph.D., Dean of the Henry Ford College School of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Development.

“Operation Next continues to expand across the region and across the nation due, in part, to partnerships like this,” said Nigel Francis, CEO and Executive Director, LIFT. “The national manufacturing innovation institutes and community colleges play critical roles in educating the manufacturing workforce of the future, and we are proud to partner with them and move the needle here in southeast Michigan.”

Operation Next was initially launched in 2018 as a pilot program at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, as a manufacturing-focused training and credentialing initiative for separating military personnel. The program has since been expanded twice. In late 2019, LIFT announced the Department of Defense would support the program’s expansion to nine new military installations over the next three years, including the National Guard and Reserve, and in 2020 and into 2021, the program is being offered to civilians in Detroit and Pittsburgh as part of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery effort funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Companies and individuals can get more information on how to
become a part of the program here.


LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

About HENRY FORD College

Henry Ford College (HFC) in Dearborn, Mich., is a comprehensive, accredited public college serving 12,000 students per semester. HFC has been successfully preparing students for a rapidly changing world since 1938, and today offers more than 120 high-quality associate degree, career, and university transfer programs. The College also offers a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies, as well as 3 + 1 programs with university partners. HFC provides customized workforce development training for business and industry. Visit for more details, or look for us on social media.