Gary Granger (left) addresses attendees at the Granger Center dedication ceremony at Ferris State University.
BIG RAPIDS, Mich. - It's official. The Granger Center for Construction and HVACR, the teaching center at Ferris State University (FSU), was officially dedicated on May 7 in a ceremony witnessed by over 300 visitors.

The building, which opened for FSU students and teachers in the fall of last year, is a 45,000-square-foot addition to the former Construction Technology Center, giving the Construction Technology Management and HVACR departments 75,000 square feet of new or renovated space for their respective programs.

The building features a number of mechanical systems - including geothermal heating and cooling - that are open to view, making the entire building a learning facility. Students can trace systems from beginning to end.

Four rooms that contain study carrels and student offices also double as "environmental test chambers" that can be heated and cooled by students looking to get hands-on experience with different systems.

The dedication is the culmination of a concept that began as far back as 1989, when former FSU HVACR Department Chair Dick Shaw began working on the project. Mike Feutz, the current department chair, began working on the building project in 1999 when FSU approached the Michigan state government for funding.

"This day is putting things in focus for me," said Feutz at the dedication. "The industry people are showing their appreciation for what we have done."

This interior shot of the Granger Center shows the open-view HVACR systems. There are also computer terminals throughout the building.

Opening Its Doors To Visitors

Feutz said the original request for funding was unsuccessful because the building plans were a "stand-alone" project. When the HVACR department partnered with the construction department and included use of the existing building, the project moved to the top of the list, said Feutz.

At the dedication ceremony, Feutz praised the entire HVACR community for its work in bringing the project to its fruition.

"The industry really helped the process by contacting the politicians," he said.

Now that the state-of-the-art building is fully functional, Feutz would like to open its doors to other visitors.

"We need to be interactive and get young people interested," he said. "We also need to get high school instructors up here so they can sell the school to their students. And we also need to get our message out to the non-HVACR community. Recruiting has to be an industry-wide effort. Ferris State can't do it all."

FSU President David Eisler, who emceed the event, said, "I believe this is the finest facility of its kind in the world."

Other speakers included Alton and Janice Granger, whose lead gift helped make the new $18 million facility a reality. Granger's company, Granger Construction, built the facility and several members of his family are FSU alumni or current students.

"Jan and I are very supportive of education," said Granger. "We love this place. We've had the privilege to work here for 10 to 12 years. Also, the industry has been very good to us, and what better way to repay an industry than to help educate its future leaders?"

The Granger's son, Gary, also spoke prior to the ribbon cutting.

"What I appreciate about the Ferris HVACR program is that it is a go-to-work type of school," he said.

Eisler read a letter from U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. "Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the dedication ceremony for the Granger Center," Stabenow wrote. "It's been a pleasure working with you to support your vision for a comprehensive learning center. I'm glad I had the opportunity to tour the facility last fall so I could see firsthand what an excellent addition it is to the university. This state-of-the-art facility will provide new and exciting opportunities for current and incoming students."

For more information on the Granger Center and the FSU HVACR program, visit, or call 800-433-7747 for tour information.

Publication date: 05/24/2004