Equipping students to thrive in a global economy

To be well prepared for the jobs of the 21st century, today’s students must have access to hands-on experience and training that allows them to put into practice concepts they have learned in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) courses. Increasingly, this type of learning requires equipment such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters.

Through the Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Grant Program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is helping to outfit public schools across the state with this type of equipment, which helps students master the skills that are in high demand in the job market. Collaboration is a key feature of these labs, with schools throughout Wisconsin and around the world communicating to share ideas.

Because the fab labs are required to be accessible to the community, they contribute more broadly to economic development by sparking innovation among Wisconsin entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses.

How it works

WEDC will provide grants of up to $25,000 to eligible Wisconsin public school districts, or up to $50,000 to consortiums of two or more public school districts, for the creation and/or expansion of fabrication laboratories within the school district(s). The funds may be used to purchase equipment used for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior high or high school students.

Applicants must supply matching funds equal to at least 50% of the grant amount provided by WEDC. Prior purchases of equipment may not be counted for grant reimbursement or the match amount.

Eligibility requirements

Fab Labs Grants will be awarded through a non-competitive process (first come first served), with applications evaluated based on readiness and long-range planning, curriculum, business and community partnerships, financial need and previous awards.

Program resources:

Through the Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is helping to equip public schools across the state to prepare students for the manufacturing jobs of the future. Collaboration is also a key feature of these labs, with schools throughout the country and around the world communicating to share ideas.

United States Fab Lab Network

WiFAB Cooperative

WiFAB, created in partnership with UW-Stout, is a new online resource to help PK-12 school districts collaborate and share information by providing a space to disseminate relevant curricula, champion best practices, address common challenges and facilitate inter-lab communications. Wisconsin Public PK-12 districts are now able to request technical assistance through the web portal to build and grow their Fabrication Laboratories. You will find a link to request assistance on this page.

UW Stout Fab Lab Assessment

Getting started with Fab Labs (Fab Foundation)

WiFAB Cooperative Training For Teachers

This page will be updated as new offerings become available.

Resources and Inspiration for K-8 Fab Labs

Can Kids As young As Three Learn to Design and Create In Fab Labs?

Meaningful Making

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