Western Michigan University and Grand Rapids Public Schools are partnering to provide students with educational opportunities.

The agreement will allow GRPS students interested in integrated design and manufacturing to earn a certificate from Western Michigan University at no out-of-pocket cost.

“Our partnership with GRPS is an effective way to help high school students discover potentially meaningful careers in manufacturing and design,” said WMU-Grand Rapids Principal Joan Rehm.

The program is a two-year dual-enrollment situation for students who will spend their school days at the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Laboratory, 200 Ionia Ave. SW. The AMP lab is a collaboration between WMU, Grand Rapids Community College, Autocam Medical and West Michigan manufacturers.

The AMP Lab opened in 2018 and was designed to help address West Michigan’s shortage of skilled trades workers. The $2.7 million facility was funded by private equity and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The first cohort of GRPS students in the program began this semester, and another cohort will be ready to start in spring 2023. The AMP Lab Gift Fund covers the cost of books, materials and transportation, while WMU’s Early College Programs will run the program and provide additional support students.

“This is another opportunity for our academics to gain access to state-of-the-art manufacturing,” said Jason McGehee, director of GRPS’ Innovation Central High School. “The hands-on experience in the labs, combined with the rigor of the university program, will allow our scientists to make a smooth transition into the workforce or make significant progress toward a four-year degree.”

GRPS students first experienced the AMP lab during field trips and will now use it to launch careers in manufacturing and design.

“To be able to link our first tours with dual education and give students the opportunity to work toward a certificate that will propel them into the workforce a step above entry level or as a springboard to quickly graduate from WMU or Grand Rapids Community. A college degree is a complete game-changer for students,” said Kimmy Beuchler, director of early learning programs at WMU’s Merze Tate College, which partners with WMU-Grand Rapids and the WMU College of Engineering and Applied Science on the GRPS program.