21 Wisconsin school districts awarded Fab Lab Grants

Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) today announced that 21 school districts throughout the state have been awarded a total of more than $508,000 in grants to establish or expand local fabrication laboratory (fab lab) facilities.

“Fab labs provide students throughout Wisconsin with access to the hands-on experience and training necessary to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow and beyond,” said Gov. Evers. “We’re glad to be awarding these funds to 21 school districts today so they can establish or expand their fab lab programs, which continue to benefit entire communities across our state by fostering collaboration, bolstering access to technology, encouraging innovation, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.”

The 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, WEDC is supporting the purchase of fab lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior high or high school students.

“WEDC has invested more than $3.9 million over the past seven years to provide 106 schools across the state with the equipment necessary to help students learn high-demand skills, including technology, manufacturing and engineering,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “Fab labs benefit not only the students themselves with important technology and career skills, but they also benefit Wisconsin employers, who will be able to find workers with the right skills to allow their companies to grow and thrive.”

The following school districts were awarded Fab Lab Grants today:

  • School District of Belleville – $15,000
  • Bowler School District – $25,000
  • School District of Elmwood – $25,000
  • Joint School District Number 8, Village of Fontana, Towns of Delavan and Walworth (Consortium) – $32,399
  • School District of Iola-Scandinavia – $25,000
  • Kewaunee School District – $25,000
  • Lake Mills Area School District – $25,000
  • School District of Manawa – $25,000
  • School District of Mauston – $25,000
  • Milwaukee Board of School District – $25,000
  • New Auburn School District – $24,963
  • School District of Omro – $25,000
  • School District of Phillips – $25,000
  • School District of Pittsville – $25,000
  • School District of Prentice – $25,000
  • School District of River Falls – $25,000
  • Francis School District – $25,000
  • Stoughton Area School District – $10,667
  • School District of Three Lakes – $25,000
  • School District of Turtle Lake – $25,000
  • Waukesha School District – $25,000

The 21 public school districts are receiving a total of $508,030 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.

WEDC received 25 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 Fox Valley Technical College as well as three WEDC team members.

In addition to the grants, WEDC has developed a fab lab resource page for its website that provides districts with information on how to set up and equip a fab lab, how to implement best practices to ensure a successful fab lab and more. Content for the page was provided by the University of Wisconsin-Stout and Fox Valley Technical College.

For more information on the state’s fab labs, including resources for teachers, visit wedc.org/fablabs or follow #WIFabLab on Twitter.