School District of Rhinelander working toward Fab Lab expansion with community support
The School District of Rhinelander’s Fab Lab has grown immensely in recent years.
Between it and the greater Career and Technical Education program, students can design and create wood, metal, and plastic products, learn to weld, fix cars, and even build houses.
Those classes are some of the most sought-after programs by students in the high school according to Principal Shane Dornfeld.
“In our full CTE area tech ed we have over 1,300 enrollments for the next school year already,” said Dornfeld.
With 750 students in the high school, students are signing up for multiple of these classes.
The district hired another technology teacher for this fall.
Those students will have a new carbon fiber printer to work with this fall thanks to a $10,000 donation from Superior Diesel.
The Rhinelander-based company is one of many businesses that partner with the school through the district’s Inspire program.
“Superior Diesel has been a great partner for the school district for many years in many different ways. We’re very, very thankful for their donation,” said Superintendent Eric Burke. “They’ve been coming to our meetings as well look over all our tech facilities. They saw a need.”
A new machine and an additional instructor are only part of the picture.
To keep up with high demand and ever-evolving technology, Burke says the tech program needs to expand.
“We’ve been working with our partners to help make a vision for what our tech ed facilities can be at the high school and middle school. There’s a great interest from the kids. There’s a great interest from our communities and our partners. So we’re hoping to build that vision,” said Burke.
Dornfeld says you can see that payoff for students while they work through the programs and after they graduate high school.
“We’ve had kids [go on to work] locally. We’ve had kids go off. One example is a kid who is working at the John Deere Headquarters down in Iowa, the world headquarters. He’s designing things on the 3D printers and working in the same things he learned here in Rhinelander High School. Now that’s his job each and every day and getting paid well,” said Dornfeld.
The plans for expanding the Fab Lab are still in the works. They’ve been greatly assisted by a $500,000 donation from Dr. Lee Swank.
Burke says they’ll be working with the school board this summer on the plans and the voters will likely need to approve a referendum to make it happen.