State awards Fab Lab grants to 7 local districts

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Seven area school districts have been awarded grants to establish or expand fab lab facilities.

Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced Monday 20 school districts throughout the state have been awarded a total of more than $500,000 in grants

Local districts include: Abbotsford, Lakeland Union, Merrill, Thorp, Three Lakes, Wabeno and Wisconsin Rapids. Grants range from $20,000 to $41,000 for local districts.

"Over the last four years, WEDC has invested over $2.1 million to provide 58 schools 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,” stated Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “These grants represent an important investment 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.”

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 Labs 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 received 56 applications, which were evaluated based on readiness and long-range planning, curriculum, business and community partnerships, financial need and previous awards.