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Taylorsville Journal

New $100,000 grant awarded to SLCC will expand the school’s Building Automation Systems program

Jul 07, 2023 11:32AM ● By Carl Fauver

A world leader in creating “smart buildings,” Johnson Controls has provided a $100,000 grant to Salt Lake Community College. (Photo courtesy SLCC)

Salt Lake Community College has just received a $100,000 grant – with the opportunity to renew it for three more years, which would increase the total gift to $400,000 – from an international company that touts itself as “a world leader in smart buildings, (that creates) safe, healthy and sustainable spaces.”

Johnson Controls is awarding $15,000 in equipment to the Taylorsville-based school, along with $85,000 in, essentially, scholarship funding.

Dr. Jenni Abbott completed the grant request last spring. She is SLCC’s Assistant Vice President of Workforce Training & Education, within the school’s Workforce & Economic Development Division.

“We are very excited about this grant because it will allow us to revise and expand our building automations program curriculum,” Abbott said. “Johnson Controls actually reached out to us, suggesting we apply for the grant. Since 2021, the company has provided $100,000 grants to ten different schools, per year, all across the country. I am confident we will be able to do what’s necessary to renew the grant for three more years, increasing our total Johnson Controls award to $400,000.”

The first-year grant funding is expected to allow Salt Lake Community College to train 30 additional students.

“My Workforce Training & Education Department is not focused on our students who are earning associate degrees,” Abbott added. “Instead, we are helping people earn skills-based training certificates to allow them to move quickly into the workforce. We will target this grant funding on drawing more students directly out of high school. We will also concentrate our recruiting on underprivileged populations.”

The phrase “smart buildings” essentially means making use of the latest high-tech, computerized equipment to assist the structures in heat, air conditioning and water conservation. 

“We look forward to putting this grant to good use and truly appreciate the support from Johnson Controls in helping our students successfully prepare for meaningful and worthwhile jobs in these fast-growing industries, especially in Utah,” SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin added.

According to their website (, SLCC’s Workforce Training & Education Department serves about 2,200 students each year, offering instruction in 60 different programs “designed to lead to entry-level employment (and to) upskill (students).” Their many programs include: Advanced Manufacturing Career Training, Energy Career Training, IT & Computer Applications Training and Warehousing & Logistics Career Training.

For its part, Johnson Controls is proud to add Taylorsville’s SLCC to its growing list of grant recipients.

“Not only are we investing in the next generation of workforce leaders, but the mentoring associated with this initiative reminds our employees why we do what we do,” Julie Brandt said, president of Building Solutions North America at Johnson Controls. “We’re looking at our future and through partnership with these colleges, we’re all contributing to a better supported trades industry.”

The grant funding is expected to help train students for jobs in the building automation sector, including HVAC, fire and security industries. Job analysts report demand for skilled workers in this industry are high, with an estimated 10,000 trade professionals projected to leave or retire from that workforce each year over the next decade.

The school’s $100,000 grant announcement even drew attention on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

“This is wonderful news for Salt Lake Community College and for Utah,” Gov. Spencer Cox said. “This grant will continue to keep our economy robust as it helps prepare and train students for well-paying, high-demand workforce jobs. This not only benefits students, but ultimately our employers along the Wasatch Front.”

Johnson Controls describes itself as “the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, with a proud history of nearly 140 years of innovation.” The company now has “a global team of 100,000 experts in more than 150 countries.”  

Salt Lake Community College is Utah’s largest two-year college, educating students in 8 areas of study at 10 locations and online. The majority of SLCC graduates transfer to four-year institutions, while thousands more are trained in direct-to-workforce programs. This year, SLCC is celebrating 75 years of providing Utahns with education and training. λ

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