To be well prepared for jobs of the 21st century, today’s students must have access to hands-on experience and training, allowing 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 round 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.
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 or high school students.
Applicants must match 1:1 the funding amount provided by WEDC. Prior purchases of equipment may not be counted for grant reimbursement or the match amount.
Fab Labs Grants will be awarded through a competitive process, with applications evaluated based on readiness and long-range planning, curriculum, business and community partnerships, financial need and previous awards.