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School District of Wabeno to Invest $50k in Fab Lab with Assistance of WEDC Grant

Wabeno School Fab Lab and Shop

Fabrication laboratories or Fab Labs have been gaining popularity in Northwoods school districts.

The School District of Wabeno started one four years ago.

It has only grown in scope and popularity since.

Credit Wabeno School Fab Lab and Shop
The School District of Wabeno was able to use its fab lab to masks during the pandemic.

Students have been able to create metal and wood signs, vinyl stickers and graphics, engravings on glasses and tumblers, and 3D printed a lot of prototypes.

District Administrator Jeff Walsh says it teaches students a lot of valuable skills.

“They can use this and go in many avenues. They could go to the workforce with the training they’ve had they can go to tech school with this, with the background they have and be ahead of the game,” said Walsh.

A recent grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will allow Wabeno to further expand the Fab Lab.

The $25,000 matching grant means the district will invest $50,000 into the Fab Lab.

Fab Lab Director Brian Van Eperen said the district will buying a 30-inch UV-LED flatbed printer with a filtration system for the fumes and smells and a 54 inch large format printer.

“Really what it’s meant for is for graphic design, improving out designs and concepts for marketing. So the kids will be able to go in design whatever it may be, decals, photos, posters, make them and then sell them or use them to market other items they’re making. For STEAM, it adds the arts and graphic design into the program,” said Van Eperen.

In addition to the skills students learn, both Van Eperen and Walsh are happy with the community involvement in the Fab Lab.

Credit Wabeno School Fab Lab and Shop
Using Corel Draw and the Epilog Laser engraver, Grace created these personalized glasses as a gift.

“We’ve brought community members in to either learn how to use the equipment and do their own projects or sometimes we get groups that will come and ask us to do jobs for them and we’re able to do those jobs for them. We have the kids do that,” said Walsh.

Van Eperen says they hope to have the new equipment installed and staff trained on it by the end of August. Though it could be delayed due to supply chain issues.