High-Tech Fabrication Laboratory to Teach Digital Talents to Students, Public
A high tech fabrication laboratory that is the result of a private-public partnership is taking shape at Antigo High School.
The district is in the midst of developing a fab lab, small-scale workshops that offer rural schools and communities equipment that can be used for digital fabrication.
Our goals are to have the room ready by late spring, Principal Tom Zamzow said. Future plans include bringing all fifth-grade students through the lab, making the room available for high school personalized learning projects, and offering evening and day time hours for members of the community.
Development of the lab dates to elate 2015, when the board of education heard a presentation from Don Sidlowski, founder of Northwoods Broadband & Economic Development Coalition.
Sidlowski, of Three Lakes, was in the middle of a three-year initiative to install one of the units in each of Wisconsin’s eight Grow North counties—Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Oconto, Oneida and Vilas.
The idea was enthusiastically embraced by the board of education and the community. In the time since, there have been presentations, tours of other fab labs, and a room has been designated at the high school for the lab.
We have also reached out to our local manufacturing community to seek their input and ideas on how they too could benefit from this learning center, Zamzow said. Fab labs ideas and inventions can be prototyped on a small scale, which greatly reduces the cost of research and development.
The high school career and technical education department has led the fab lab planning process. Included on the planning team are key individuals from the district central office buildings and grounds, business office, and superintendent’s office. The high school and district maintenance staff are renovating room 111 to make a home for the equipment.
Zamzow explained that local funds dedicated to this project along with private donations have provided a start-up budget for laser printers, 3D printers, and a CNC router table.
Grants have been prepared and submitted to support additional equipment needs, he added.
The local project is similar to the global network of fab labs started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Using the increasingly availability of high-speed Internet, the labs incorporate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) in a curriculum that melds aspects of engineering and design.
In his presentations locally, Sidlowski stressed something that local manufacturers already know—that there is a skills gap between employers and potential workforce. Most of the jobs of the 21st century will be centered in areas that require technical, not four-year degrees.
The fab lab is one way to address that deficit, he said, and help students learn that manufacturing and industrial occupations can be rewarding and lucrative.
Source: Antigo Daily Journal