April 12, 2016

Inside Innovation: Madison Region to be Home to New Fab Lab

Image Source: Isthmus
The Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) concept grew out of a project of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has spread to many parts of the world including the Madison Region. Stoughton High School opened the doors to its Fab Lab in 2013, joining the 100+ worldwide locations in operation at the time, a number which has recently grown to over 400. The region will be gaining another, with the Waunakee School District's announcement last week that it is in the early stages of creating space for its very own Fab Lab, becoming the sixth Fab Lab in the state.

Image Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Designed to spur creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, a Fab Lab contains technology and equipment to bring ideas for products to life. Collaboration is also a key feature of these labs, with schools throughout the country and around the world communicating to share ideas. Such hands-on programs allow for cross-curricular learning in diverse fields such as art, business education, and engineering. With a reputation as the top metropolitan area in the U.S. for STEM graduates, it's no wonder the region is seeing growth in such innovative spaces.

In order to help equip public schools across the state to prepare students for the manufacturing jobs of the future, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is providing grants of up to $25,000 through the Fab Labs Grant Program to eligible Wisconsin public school districts for the creation or expansion of Fab Labs. The first grant year closed in January 2016 with a high volume of applicants. Look for award announcements, which will be made in the coming months!

If your community is considering a Fab Lab, or for assistance in pursuing a Fab Lab, contact MadREP Enterprise Development Director Craig Kettleson at 608.571.0405.