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The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)  has opened  the application period for the second round of Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Grant Program funding. This program prepares students for the jobs of the 21st century by helping public school districts provide equipment for students to learn and practice science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) skills.

Applications are now available and must be received or postmarked by Dec. 15, 2016 to be considered.

Please note that a few program details have changed since last year. For this year’s grant round, individual public school districts can apply for up to $25,000 each. In addition, either a cooperative education service agency (CESA) or a lead public school district may apply on behalf of a consortium of two or more public school districts. In all cases, applicants are required to provide a 1:1 match of grant funds received.

The purpose of the Fab Labs Grant Program is to help Wisconsin public school districts create fab labs, which are high-technology workshops equipped with computer-controlled additive and subtractive manufacturing components, such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and/or plasma cutters. A fully functional fab lab has active engagement with the business community, is accessible to multiple departments within a school or schools, provides community access, and is integrated with the network of Wisconsin-based fab labs. Required community access will help to spark innovation among local entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses, and may be fully developed over time.

Equipment eligible for grant funding, or which can be counted toward a school district’s match, includes equipment necessary for the creation or expansion of a school’s fabrication laboratory in keeping with fab lab definition given above. Equipment includes computer software required to operate the equipment, installation of the equipment and necessary machine tooling. Equipment does not include any building modifications required to house the equipment, e.g., electrical, ventilation or flooring upgrades or additions. It also does not include supplies. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Fab Labs Grant Program resource page provides additional guidance on the components typically included in a fab lab.

A total of up to $500,000 is available for the FY17 competition. WEDC will evaluate applicants based on evidence of readiness and long-range planning, curriculum, business and community partnerships, financial need and previous awards.

Fab labs have the potential to benefit individual students, school districts and the state’s economy as a whole. We strongly encourage districts to consider applying for this program. Thank you for your help in getting the word out. Learn more and find application details here.

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