PLYMOUTH — Governor Scott Walker announced Tuesday that the Plymouth School District was was one of 22 school districts to receive a $25,000 grant to establish or expand local fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab) facilities.
“Fab Labs are the latest example of the many investments we have made in education and workforce development to ensure that Wisconsin students have the skills and training they need to compete for the jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Walker, who is attending announcement events in Rhinelander and Ashwaubenon. “Wisconsin’s Fab Labs provide students with hands-on experience in areas such as design, engineering, and complex problem-solving – all key skills that will benefit those students regardless of the career path they choose after high school.”
A Fab Lab is a high-technology workshop equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers, and plasma cutters. Through its Fab Lab Grant Program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is supporting the purchase of Fab Lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior, or high school students.
The 22 public school districts are receiving a total of $504,863 in Fab Lab grants from WEDC. Individual school districts were eligible for up to $25,000, and consortiums of two or more districts were eligible for up to $50,000. The program requires matching funds from each district.
Because of the important role that Fab Labs play in student training and workforce development, Governor Walker’s 2017-19 budget directed WEDC to allocate a total of $1 million in Fab Lab funding this year and next.
“Over the last three years, WEDC has invested $1.6 million to provide 43 districts across the state the type of equipment needed to help students master the skills that are in high demand in the job market, including manufacturing, technology, and engineering,” said WEDC Secretary Hogan. “This program will better prepare students for the life after high school – whether they’re heading straight into the workforce, going to a technical college or attending a four-year university.”
WEDC received 63 applications, which were evaluated based on readiness and long-range planning, curriculum, business and community partnerships, financial need, and previous awards. The review committee consisted of experts from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and UW-Stout, as well as three WEDC team members.