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News and Press: Industry News

Downtown Grand Rapids AMP Lab to Tackle Shortage of Manufacturing Talent

Friday, September 22, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Via Mlive.com by Monica Scott

 

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Construction is underway at Western Michigan University's downtown Grand Rapids $3 million manufacturing laboratory.

AMP Lab @WMU, an Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Laboratory, is being built in collaboration with West Michigan manufacturers and Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) to address the shortage of skilled trades and engineering employees in the region.

The Lab will occupy the first two floors of WMU's regional site, located at 200 Ionia Ave. SW, in the city's Arena District, off Cherry Street. Plans are to open the lab in fall 2018.

"AMP Lab @WMU will establish academic and career pathways between workforce development entities, educational institutions and industry partners for our region," said Dawn Fortin Mattoon, associate provost of WMU's Extended University Programs. 

"These pathways can lead to new skills, certifications and degrees, but more importantly, careers in manufacturing, engineering and design." 

Next fall, the program will connect students with opportunities in manufacturing and engineering education options.

Along with WMU, GRCC will have access to offer various manufacturing and engineering courses inside the Lab.

The facility will serve as a program to cultivate the next generation of engineers, designers and other skilled individuals to serve the manufacturing industry.

The AMP Lab will combine prototyping, training and small-scale manufacturing with the opportunity for individuals to earn a degree. Some of the equipment that will be used at the lab will be relocated from GRCC. 

The lab will be divided into hands-on instructional learning and research areas. Future arrangement of the facility will support college lab sessions, professional workshops, training sessions, K-12 outreach and workforce development activities.

"AMP Lab will be a place for collaboration and learning in an advanced manufacturing and design environment," said Steven Butt, professor and chair of WMU's Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems department.

"Entrepreneurs will have opportunities to prototype their ideas. For some it may be a place to start and for others it will be a place to hone a new product, process or skill.

"The demand for engineers and designers within manufacturing outstrips the supply of qualified individuals by at least a factor of two,'' according to the press release, citing a recent employer assessment by Talent 2025 -  a 100 West Michigan CEOs working to ensure an ongoing supply of talent.

According to the college, that assessment also reports the supply for managers and supervisors within the manufacturing industry in the region is about 90 percent of the demand.

John C. Kennedy, president of Autocam Medical, has been involved in programs to raise awareness about the need for the education of skilled workers throughout West Michigan.

He is credited with being instrumental in building support within the engineering and manufacturing communities for the creation of AMP Lab @WMU.

The development of the AMP Lab @WMU is being partially funded through private investment efforts.


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