According to a release from the Governor’s office, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is now accepting applications for the Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Lab) Grant Program, which provides funding to help public schools build or expand Fab Labs that provide students with training on valuable job skills. Application information can be found at InWisconsin.com/fablabs. The deadline to apply is December 15.
Fab Labs are high-tech workshops with the latest equipment including computer-controlled manufacturing components, such as 3-D printers, laser engravers, and computer numerical control routers.
In May of 2016, grants totaling $600,000 were awarded to 25 school districts in the first year of the program. WEDC is allocating another $500,000 in this fiscal year and anticipates awarding 20 grants this time around. Grant recipients will be announced in the spring of 2017.
WEDC will provide grants of up to $25,000 to public school districts or up to $50,000 to consortia of two or more districts for the creation or expansion of Fab Labs. The funds may be used to purchase equipment used for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior high, or high school students. Applicants must match the amount of funding provided by WEDC.
Fab Lab grants will be awarded through a competitive process, with applicants evaluated based on readiness and long-range planning, curriculum, business and community partnerships, financial need, and previous awards.
In this round of funding, WEDC is requiring award recipients to make the Fab Labs accessible to the public so the schools can offer training and workshops to members of the community after school hours. This facet of the program is expected to drive innovation throughout the community.