High school students can explore manufacturing and design careers through new WMU, GRPS partnership

Contact: Beth Pappalardo

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Western Michigan University and Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) have joined forces in a two-year dual-enrollment partnership to support high school studentinterested in entering the integrated design and manufacturing fields. Through this partnership, GRPS students can complete a WMU undergraduate certificate at no out-of-pocket cost.  

“Our partnership with GRPS is an impactful way to help high school students discover potential meaningful careers in the field of manufacturing and design,” says Joanne Roehm, director of WMU-Grand Rapids.  

The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Laboratory (AMP Lab @ WMU) is a state-of-the-art manufacturing lab created in collaboration with West Michigan manufacturers, Autocam Medical and Grand Rapids Community College at WMU-Grand RapidsTo address a critical lack of skill to meet the high demand for manufacturers, engineers and designers in West Michigan, the AMP Lab will now serve as the location where GRPS students spend their school daytaking courses with instructors from Western’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.  

GRPS was first introduced to the possibilities of dual enrollment during a series of high school field trips to the AMP Lab @ WMU. 

Students sit around a table in the AMP Lab.

Mike Butler of Autocam Medical talks with GRPS students in the AMP Lab @ WMU during a field trip in spring 2022.

“As a former science teacher in Grand Rapids Public Schools, I have seen the impact these types of experiences have on students and their perceptions of science careers firsthand,” says Kimmy Beuchler, director of Early College Programs in Merze Tate College, which collaborated with WMU-Grand Rapids and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences on the dual-enrollment program“To be able to link our initial field trips to dual enrollment and give students the opportunity to work toward earning a certificate that will propel them into the workforce at a step above entry level or as a springboard to quickly complete a WMU or Grand Rapids Community College degree is an absolute game changer for students.” 

The first cohort of GRPS students has begun and a second cohort will join in spring 2023. Support from the AMP Lab Gift Fund will cover the cost of books, materials and transportation. Western’s Early College Programs will administer the program and provide necessary student-support services.  

“I am truly excited about this partnership with Western Michigan University. This is yet another opportunity for our scholars to gain exposure in modern manufacturing. The hands-on experiences in labs coupled with the rigor of a university curriculum will allow our scholars to make a smooth transition into the workforce or significant progress toward a four-year degree,” explains Dr. Jason McGhee, principal at Innovation Central High School in Grand Rapids. 

Through the partnership with GRPS, Dr. Steve Butt, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is equally thrilled that “WMU has partnered with GRPS in the development and implementation of a new program designed to immerse students in manufacturing and design. It is our expectation that this program will encourage students to consider manufacturing and design careers and become members of the next generation of makers in West Michigan.” 

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