WEDC recently awarded 20 grants totaling $520,399 to school districts throughout Wisconsin to establish or expand their local fabrication laboratory (fab lab) facilities. Individual school districts were eligible for up to $25,000 each, and consortia of two or more districts were eligible for up to $50,000 each. The program requires matching funds from each district.
The Fab Labs Grant Program is designed to support hands-on learning in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) by assisting public school districts with equipment purchases such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters for instructional and educational purposes.
The grant program, now in its fourth year, has invested over $2.1 million in Wisconsin school districts’ fab labs thus far, including the newly announced grants.
“By awarding Fab Labs Grants, WEDC is helping furnish public schools with the type of equipment that helps students master the high-demand skills that will be invaluable to them once they graduate to meet the workforce demands of the future,” said Vincent Rice, vice president of sector strategy development for WEDC.
In addition to the funding, WEDC offers a fab lab resource page that provides districts with information and a video on how to set up and equip a fab lab and best practices for ensuring a successful fab lab, among other resources. Content for the page was provided by the University of Wisconsin-Stout and Gateway Technical College. UW-Stout also received a grant from WEDC for the development of an online tool to increase collaboration and the sharing of resources among Wisconsin fab labs.
The 2019 Fab Labs Grant recipients include:
- Abbotsford (Clark and Marathon Counties), $25,000
- Beloit Turner (Rock County), $25,000
- Brown Deer (Milwaukee County), $25,000
- Fall River (Columbia County), $25,000
- Grafton (Ozaukee County), $25,000
- Hayward (Sawyer County), $25,000
- Lakeland Union High School Consortium (Oneida County), $41,628
- Maple (Douglas County), $22,937
- Merrill (Lincoln County), $24,761
- Milwaukee Public Schools (Milwaukee County), $25,000
- Mount Horeb (Dane County), $25,000
- Necedah (Juneau County), $12,220
- Southern Door (Door County), $25,000
- Francis (Milwaukee County), $25,000
- Thorp (Clark County), $24,157
- Three Lakes (Oneida County), $20,640
- Wabeno (Forest County), $25,000
- Wauwatosa (Milwaukee County), $24,056
- Whitehall (Trempealeau County), $50,000
- Wisconsin Rapids (Wood County), $25,000
Of the 20 school districts and consortia receiving awards this year, 15 are receiving a Fab Labs Grant for the first time, and five have received one or more grants in prior years of the program. The 20 recipients were chosen from 56 applicants.
May 13 was officially designated as Fab Labs Day in Wisconsin to celebrate the selection of this year’s grant recipients as well as the accomplishments of previously existing fab labs around the state.