Missouri Southern State University aims to launch its CAPS program in August 2022, with Joplin, Webb City and Carl Junction school districts participating.

The Center for Advanced Professional Studies, or CAPS, is a national model for collaboration among school districts, higher education and industry.

Missouri Southern’s CAPS program will be the 75th in the nation, and the first housed on a college campus. It will offer high school students the opportunity to see life on a college campus while working toward a professional goal in local industry.

The initial launch will include juniors and seniors from Joplin, Webb City and Carl Junction, the university said in a statement announcing the program. The students will be mentored by area professionals and MSSU faculty while they are immersed in a professional setting, solving real-world problems and earning high school and college credit for their work.

Courses for the program will evolve based on industry need, officials said. Health sciences courses are likely to be included to begin with; other potential areas of study could include human services, bioscience and computer science.

“Community partnership is the ‘why’ behind this program,” said Suzanne Hull, director of MOSO CAPS, in a statement. “It is creating opportunities for students to explore what they think they want to do for a career. and it’s an opportunity for industries to grow their own workforce and be very selective.”

University officials ultimately hope to house the CAPS program at Launchpad, a planned redevelopment of the former Joplin Public Library building downtown. Launchpad, a joint project of the university, the city of Joplin and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, also would hold a small downtown campus for Missouri Southern.

The city hopes to submit a $10 million bond issue to Joplin voters to fund the renovation of the old library building.

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