A year ago, Western Michigan University announced a collaborative effort with Grand Rapids Community College, and with West Michigan manufacturers to help ease the need for talent in manufacturing. Wednesday, the first examples of that effort were put on display.

WMU has opened a 15,000 square foot manufacturing lab at it's facility in downtown Grand Rapids, in the arena district at Ionia and Cherry Streets.

The goal is to lay the foundation for the next generation of skilled individuals, i.e, engineers, designers and individuals with skills needed by the local manufacturing industry, though it's not limited to just local employers.

The lab is named "the AMP Lab @ WMU". (AMP stands for Advanced Manufacturing Partnership)

The AMP Lab combines prototyping, training and small-scale manufacturing with the opportunity for individuals to earn college credits to be used toward a degree or certification. The facility includes 3D printers and scanners, a CAD/CAM lab, plasma cutter, laser cutter, welding station, metrology equipment, and prototyping tools. - WMU press release

In January, the same release says "WMU will offer courses for a certificate program in Integrated Design and Manufacturing. In addition, manufacturing engineering technology, engineering design technology, and engineering management technology courses will be offered at the facility for students enrolled in WMU’s ABET-accredited four-year engineering technology degree program."

Western Michigan University's Manufacturing Lab in downtown Grand Rapids (courtesy Western Michigan University)

The goal for the site is to have six to eight classes per semester, with classes averaging approximately 20 students.