a hands-on early college program from Kent ISD

This degree and certificate program is designed for tinkerers, inventors and those who love to take things apart – just to see how they work. Sound like you?

Launch U offers students a quick path to an Associate Degree AND a job, in a growing field full of high tech tools like robots and industrial lasers. The program starts in 10th grade, continues through high school, provides industry certificates along the way – and with just one more year – a specialized Associate Degree from Grand Rapids Community College.

And it’s all tuition-free –  a savings of about $10,000 while earning this Associate Degree.



With the Help of Local Employers

Staff from local companies are helping create Launch U, which will feature key industry connections with students, like:

  • Behind-the-scenes workplace tours
  • Job shadows in different companies and fields
  • Industry certificates (approved by local companies) to demonstrate specific skills to employers
  • ​Internships with area employers

And perhaps most importantly, for students who complete the program – potential jobs and good careers with advancement will be waiting.

Start your future today with Launch U. Contact us at: (616) 447-5670

Success in the New Economy: A Compelling Case; is a Technical Education Right For You

Success in the New Economy from Brian Y. Marsh on Vimeo.

Direction and Motion Graphics: Brian Y. Marsh
Written and Narrated by: Kevin Fleming

Citrus College supported the production of “Success in the New Economy” to help a broader audience begin to understand preparation today for tomorrow’s labor market realities. The end result is a compelling case for students to explore career choices early, make informed decisions when declaring their college education goal, and to consider technical skill acquisition, real-world application and academics (career technical programs) in tandem with a classic education. This balanced approach to life and learning results in a well-educated and employed workforce.

Leveraging his expertise in higher education and Career & Technical Education, Kevin Fleming adapted conference presentations and research to create this data-driven explanation. And award winning film creator and producer Brian Y. Marsh brought the data to life through animation.

The complete transcription of the video with data references is available here:

Course Examples

This hands-on early college program will offer several career paths, each with its own set of courses. The paths include Mechanical Design, Industrial Technology and Tooling/Manufacturing. Example courses are drawn from each of these paths.

 10th: Regular HS Classes           11th: Regular HS Classes             12th: Regular HS Classes

 Plus options like:                                    Plus options like:                                     Plus options like: 

 Mechanical Power Transmission       Advanced Engineering Graphics         Die Design

 Mechanical Concepts                           Metallurgy                                                 Welding

 Blueprint Reading                                 Industrial Graphics with CAD               Digital Logic

View sample schedules

View Counselor FAQ's

View links to the programs at GRCC

A Bright Future Ahead

Why kent county employers support launch u

This course of study leads to scores of different careers – each one with a path aimed at good jobs in the high tech and high skill workplace. Local employers need about 12,000 people to fill jobs in these fields in the next few years, so there is a bright future ahead for students in this new program.

West Michigan needs your talent! Come be a part of the regional talent base and talk to your school counselor today about Launch U, the early college program from Kent ISD.

West Michigan Needs your talent! In the design field, as a mechanical designer, the average hourly wage is $35.78 and the hourly wage range is $22.09 to $50.00. In advanced manufacturing as an industrial technologist or in tooling and manufacturing, the average hourly wage is $20.93 and the hourly wage range is between $12.75 and $29.75. In the next five years, mechanical design will need more than 7,000 people and advanced manufacturing will need nearly 12,000.Employment information courtesy Talent 2025.

Information on careers related to Launch U and hundreds of other careers is available on the Department of Labor’s resource site.

Listen to a few words from our launch u press conference

Link to Launch U Press Conference coverage

How to Enroll

It starts with you!

Print out the flyer and fill in the ticket at the bottom. Take this to your school counselor and let them know you'd like to sign up. The counselor completes enrollment in Kent ISD's online enrollment system, just like other student programs. If you have difficulty enrolling, call (616) 447-5670.

Your ticket to a great career from Launch U. Print, fill out this form and give it to your high school counselor.

Enrollment Deadline: April 17, 2017

Launch U 20x5 Champion Team

Kent ISD has created a campaign called 20x5 - the goal is for 20 employers to join us in supporting Launch U within their circle of influence.

Talent Champion
An organization who partners with Kent ISD to inform their internal stakeholders and external partners about Launch U and agree to refer a minimum of 5 students to the early-middle college program:

  • Alliance CNC
  • Amway
  • ArtiFlex
  • Autocam Precision Components Group
  • Brillcast
  • Cascade Engineering
  • Custom Profile
  • DeWys Manufacturing
  • Enterprise Tool & Die
  • Lacks Enterprises
  • MEC Inc.
  • Plasan Carbon Composites
  • Prodgeon & Clay
  • Ranir LLC
  • RoMan Manufacturing
  • Wolverine Coil Spring

Talent Advocate
An organization who partners with Kent ISD to promote Launch U widely to their member populations:

  • Association of Human Resource Management
  • Discover Manufacturing
  • Express Employment Professionals
  • Hello West Michigan
  • Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids
  • Management Business Solutions
  • Northwood University
  • ResourceMFG / ProLogistix
  • West Michigan Works!
  • Western Michigan University
  • Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce

For More Information on Launch U, please call (616) 447-5670

Upcoming Events

Student Programs

Additional information sessions for Launch U focused on students and parents will be announced soon.

April 17, 2017
5:00 PM

Launch U student application deadline.

Counselor Programs

March 22, 2017
1:00 PM

An online webinar for Counselors with a Q&A session

Register to attend!

Business Programs

March 29, 2017
11:30 AM
Join Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce members to learn about Launch U.

Register to attend!

Is Launch U
for you?

LaunchU is for the students who are curious explorers, the tinkerers who love taking things apart to see how they work. They create games and wallets out of duct tape, fix the drawer that won’t close, make new inventions out of spare parts that actually work.

Parents of these students likely tell stories about toasters, computers and electronic gear taken apart on kitchen tables.

Launch U students enjoy seeking solutions and experimenting until “it works.” These students have a drive to master the mechanical and electronic products that infuse our world.

If this sounds like you, please join us! Contact us at: (616) 447-5670

See our flyer here. If you're interested in enrolling, print it out and take it to your counselor.

Designers of Launch U:

Laura Elsner, HR Manager, DeWys Manufacturing

Steve Heethuis, Training Director, AutoCam Precision Components Group

Steve Harvey, Principal, Forest Hills Eastern High School

Steve Gough, Principal, Comstock Park High School

Lisa Jacobs, Executive Director of Community Services, Early College Coordinator, Rockford Public Schools

Brady Lake, Principal, Caledonia High School

Amy Koning, Associate Dean of Operations, School of Workforce Development, GRCC

Dan Clark, Dean of Lakeshore Campus and Academic Outreach, GRCC

Rusty Anderson, Mathematics Consultant, Kent ISD

Jarrad Grandy, Director of Career Readiness, Kent ISD

Bill Smith, Assistant Superintendent, Kent ISD

Ron Caniff, Superintendent, Kent ISD