When a school constructs a fabrication laboratory (fab lab), the primary goal is to equip students with hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) fields. But the impact of such a lab goes far beyond the classroom, and the most successful fab labs are those that have strong corporate partnerships and relationships with the local community.
“If they are going to make the maximum possible impact, fab labs in Wisconsin schools must be integrated with their communities and area employers,” says Vincent Rice, WEDC vice president of sector strategy development. “That’s why WEDC has built community engagement and corporate partnerships into the evaluation criteria for its Fab Labs Grant Program.”
In the spring of 2019, WEDC awarded 20 grants totaling $520,399 to school districts throughout Wisconsin to establish or expand their local fab lab facilities. The grant program has invested over $2.1 million in Wisconsin school districts’ fab labs over the last four years.