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Wauwatosa School District Receives $24,000 Grant from WEDC for New Center for Design and Innovation



members of the Wauwatosa School District with State Rep. Robyn Vining and WEDC CEO Mark Hogan during the announcement.


Wauwatosa School District has been selected as one of 20 schools or districts across the state to receive a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to invest in an innovative workshop space known as a Fabrication Laboratory, or Fab Lab.


Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization, announced Wauwatosa's $24,056 grant during a ceremony on Monday at Wauwatosa West High School, where the District is in the midst of building its first Fab Lab. The lab will be known as the Center for Design and Innovation (CDI).


"This stop is one of eight for Governor Evers and me, along with other state leaders, as we celebrate Fab Lab Day across the State of Wisconsin today," said Hogan.


Over the last four years, WEDC has invested over $2.1 million to provide 58 schools across the state the type of equipment needed to help students master the skills that are in high demand in the job market, including manufacturing, technology, and engineering.


“These grants represent an important investment in education and workforce development to ensure that Wisconsin students have the skills and training they need to compete for the jobs of the 21st century,” said Hogan.


A Fab Lab allows users to create and innovate using personalized digital fabrication. This is a manufacturing process where machine operation is controlled by a computer to produce a product, a method increasing in popularity in the manufacturing industry and in education.


Wauwatosa Schools' Center for Design and Innovation is a phased renovation of the Technical Education space inside West High School, with the first phase of work completed in the summer of 2018. The second phase will begin summer of 2019 as one of the projects included in the District’s facilities referendum. The CDI will support the Wauwatosa School District’s ongoing efforts to ensure its students are college, career, and life ready and will expand the District’s offering of hands-on learning in science, engineering, art, and math.


"The WEDC grant affirms the work we do in Wauwatosa to continually push forward with innovation, creativity, and the use of technology," said Superintendent Phil Ertl. "From developing the Fab Lab (Center for Design and Innovation), to creating a curriculum to be used by it, and building relationships with local corporations, we are always looking for opportunities to create a strong network of support for the future of our students."


In Wauwatosa’s Center for Design and Innovation, students will have access to a wide array of resources including:

  • Software: design and CAM software CNC Equipment: milling machines, turning centers, a plasma-cutter, and routers. 
  • Digital Equipment: 3D printers, a 3D scanner, laser engravers, a vacuum former, vinyl cutter and embroidery machines
  • Manufacturing Equipment: milling machines, lathes, welders, sheet metal fabrication equipment, casting and forging equipment Woodworking Equipment: table saws, jointers, planers, and power hand tools


The goal is to create an open space where students can see the entire process of design and manufacturing from the brainstorming phase, to design, to product development.


“In the Center for Design and Innovation, students will develop problem-solving skills and become familiar with 3D modeling software, the design process, and many forms of digital equipment as they formulate solutions to current real-world problems,” said David Dentinger, Supervisor of Secondary Education for the Wauwatosa School District.


“This will require each student to creatively use their understanding of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) to progress from defining a problem to developing a solution. The Center will be a cornerstone of a Wauwatosa Schools education, supporting students in their current endeavors, as well as their future endeavors, such as success in college and the workforce,” said Dentinger.


New Classes Designed for Center of Design and Innovation Space


Students from both Wauwatosa high schools are able to take courses in the Center. The two high school anchor courses are: You Can Make (Almost) Anything 1 and Think- Design-Make.


These are one-semester, half-credit, graded courses offered during the school day. The first course was implemented fall of 2018, and the second course started spring of 2019.


Additionally, the District has created a course called "Future Makers" that will allow students in the LAUNCH program to utilize the Center for Design and Innovation. LAUNCH is a new program beginning in the for 2019-2020 school year that offers unique career-based learning experiences as part of the District's Academic and Career Planning (ACP) initiatives.


In the future, the goal is for other high school students who are not necessarily taking one of the anchor courses designed for the Center for Design and Innovation to be able to use it on a walk-in basis or when their clubs meet. During that time, they will be able to tinker, explore, and invent, using digital equipment, under the supervision of a staff member.


Within the next two years, East High School will have its own renovated Technical Education lab space, as approved in the 2018 facilities referendum. Plans for the space at East High School are currently being discussed.


Eventually, elementary and middle school students will also be able to work in the Center on a project for their classes. District teachers can be trained to use the Center and then reserve it for sessions as needed. 


“As the landscape of education continues to evolve we are constantly looking for opportunities for students to engage in hands-on, collaborative, project-based experiences that will support them as tomorrow’s innovators and leaders,” said Tina Koch, Innovation Specialist for the District. 


Down the road, the District plans to allow all Wauwatosa residents access to the Centers at both high schools, creating a community-based experience. More details will be shared once Phase 2 of construction on the Center for Design and Innovation at West High School is completed.