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A recent iFair is just one of the many ways MPS is exposing students to careers in technology.
A recent iFair is just one of the many ways MPS is exposing students to careers in technology. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools)

New $25K tech lab teaches MPS students to turn ideas into reality

This morning, MPS will unveil its new "Fab Lab," a digital fabrication facility, at Washington High School of Information Technology, 2525 N. Sherman Blvd.

The lab was funded with a $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), and will include two vinyl cutters, a trio of three-dimensional printers, a 3-D scanner, a computer numerical control mill, a laser engraver and the computers to make them hum.

The goal of the workshop is to familiarize students to the kind of high-tech gear that facilitates innovation and creative thinking. In the lab, students can turn their ideas into three-dimensional models.

In February, Washington's principal at the time visited some Fab Labs at three rural schools in the Northwoods to get a first-hand view of what the school could expect from its new workshop.

"Incorporating Fab Labs into educational programs of study has been shown to increase student engagement by providing hands-on opportunities to solve real world problems," notes an MPS press release.

"In Fab Labs, students learn because they want to, they develop technical skill that builds pride in mastery, improves teamwork, teaches critical thinking, persistence and other 21st century employability skills. MPS plans to create more Fab Labs within the district."

Last month, Washington hosted an iFair to introduce students and their families to careers in information technology and engineering.

In the same spirit, the district has also launched an apprenticeship program that works to give high school students real-life, hands-on work experience that allows them to "test drive" potential careers and that they can, hopefully, then parlay into jobs upon graduation.

WUWM’s Rachel Morello did a story on that program this morning. Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service also wrote about it late last year.

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