BELOIT - Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will be awarding Beloit Turner High School a $25,000 grant to expand its fabrication laboratory, otherwise known as the "fab lab."
The grant funding will help pay for advanced technology equipment to be housed in its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) addition to the middle and high school. The area is set to be constructed this fall as part of the Turner
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers made the announcement on Monday morning in the school auditorium. He explained how 58 school districts applied for the grant funding, but only 20 districts received it, which reflected highly on the district.
Teacher Nolan Otremba wrote the grant application.
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.
Over the last four years, WEDC has invested more than $2.1 million to provide 58 schools across the state with equipment affiliated with building skills in manufacturing, technology and engineering. Evers declared Monday as Fab Lab Day in Wisconsin, and to mark the occasion, he and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, along with WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark R. Hogan and other key state leaders were visiting eight school districts to present the grants. Evers said fab labs instruct students in science, math, engineering and collaboration - skills preparing young people for higher education, the workforce or technical college.
Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said the labs are opportunities for students to experience hands-on environments exposing them to career pathways. The labs give young people jobs to sustain students and the economy.
"Our students will be sought after by businesses through the region, state and country," McCarthy said. "We will develop further courses that articulate with schools such as Blackhawk Technical College and put students on the pathway to future employment."
Otremba said the new STEAM wing will become a digital makerspace where new ideas can come to light with advanced technology equipment in the areas of robotics, CNC technology, 3D printing and more.
"I can see it become an incubating space for neat ideas and products being grown in the Stateline Area," Otremba said.
State Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, said the earlier that students have exposure to the trades the more likely they will be to pursue careers in those fields.
State Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said the new space wouldn't be possible without the community support for Turner's recently approved referendum. He thanked school board members, students and community for supporting it.
State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said it's exciting to see Turner receiving the award and the partnerships it's forming.
"I hope this inspires you to take advantage of these opportunities," Loudenbeck said. "We want to make you prepared for the future, and hopefully you will be in Wisconsin and possibly the Greater Beloit area."
The renovated space will be completed by the end of next summer and ready in time for the 2020-2021 school year. As part of the plan the existing technical education space will be renovated including the middle school shop and classroom, fabrication lab, physics and engineering lab and project-based/hands-on learning adjacent to all major STEAM areas.
There will be the addition of a high school technical education classroom, metals and wood shops with storage and art rooms.