In Fall 2022, Harper launched the Innovation Accelerator as a new collaborative College unit designed to focus on rapid development and delivery
of emerging technology programming to meet regional employer demands for a skilled
workforce. Innovation in this context signifies a paradigm shift, challenging traditional norms
with disruptive ideas that pave the way for transformational learning experiences.
It's about reimagining the educational landscape, where creative approaches and novel
thinking foster a culture of continuous evolution and profound impact, particularly
with how we engage employer partners and develop new industry-driven curricula and
programs. New programs will ensure students are learning future technology skills and competencies, using industry-relevant equipment, and earning industry-recognized credentials that make them competitive in today’s rapidly changing job market.
Vision Statement: Harper College's Innovation Accelerator envisions being a pioneering force in community
college education, seamlessly integrating cutting-edge technologies and labor market
trends to create transformative educational experiences. Our strategic focus is to
lead with agility and foresight in developing comprehensive programs in emerging fields
such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing,
quantum computing, nanotechnology, and semiconductor technology. Utilizing the Business
Leadership Team (BILT) model, we are committed to ensuring our curriculum remains
industry-relevant and forward-thinking, preparing students for the dynamic challenges
of tomorrow's workforce. We aspire to be a beacon of innovation and excellence that
empowers students and faculty, enriches communities, and drives economic growth through
educational leadership and collaborative partnerships.
See the exciting things happening at Harper in this news article.
The Five Economies Positioned for Regional Future Growth
The Innovation Accelerator is focused on careers fields included in the five “economies” (or occupation clusters) positioned for future growth according to regional labor market data. We are currently focused on programs and
occupations in the Readiness, Automated, and Remote Economies, specifically Cybersecurity,
Artificial Intelligence, and Cloud Infrastructure. These are the hot jobs of today and tomorrow!
Innovation Accelerator Initiatives
Business & Industry Leadership Teams
We are looking for business and industry leaders, including technical executives,
technicians, and other industry professionals, working in Cybersecurity, AI, and Cloud
Infrastructure career fields to join our new Business and Industry Leadership Team
(BILT) advisory councils. Check out our Employer Partners webpage to learn more.
Prioritizing Equity in Emerging Technologies Pathways at Harper Grant Project
The Innovation Accelerator has been tasked with operationalizing the $1.6 million
Prioritizing Equity in Emerging Technologies Pathways at Harper (EmergingTech@Harper) project that is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training
Administration's Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant (SCC3) program. Over
the next four years, Harper will develop new accelerated career pathways in Cybersecurity,
Artificial Intelligence, and Cloud Infrastructure. These pathways will offer multiple
entry and exit points, including technical bridge programs for students needing basic
skills support, short-term certificates, industry-recognized credentials, credit certificates,
and associate degrees. We want to meet individuals where they are and support their
academic journey. This project also seeks to increase the number of women and people
of color in IT-related career fields. Click the program links at the top of the page
to learn more about new and planned programs that equip students with cutting-edge
Enabling Partnerships to Increase Innovation Capacity (EPIIC)
The Innovation Accelerator is leading a $400,000 three-year National Science Foundation
grant project entitled Generating Regional Innovative Partnerships. Harper is serving
as the lead institution for a five-institution consortium comprised of Ivy Tech Community
College (IN), Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MS), Washburn University Institute
of Technology (KS), and WSU Tech (KS). The primary goal of this three-year grant is
to build institutional capacity to grow external partnerships for workforce programs
to make them more responsive to regional workforce needs supported by the development
of a scalable, replicable framework for community and technical colleges transitioning
from traditional advisory committees to the nationally recognized Business and Industry
Leadership Team (BILT) advisory council model. Dr. Susanne Brock serves as the Principal
Investigator, and Dr. Maria Coons is the co-Principal Investigator.