Grant Would Make Island’s Lab Even More Fab

Washington Island School continues to increase its high-tech equipment to add to students’ capabilities and to provide new opportunities for island residents.

Local donors and school supporters have surpassed $18,000 in contributions the district needs as a match if Washington School is selected for an $18,000 grant from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to improve the school’s Tech Ed department and fabrication laboratory, said Matt Sullivan, technology instructor.

The district beat a January application deadline for the grants, which will be announced in spring.

The grant would help toward creation of a dedicated computer lab with desktop computers with more capacity than the current laptops. Sullivan also hopes to use grant funds for graphic arts software, a second laser engraver and improved woodworking and power tools for the Fab Lab. The lab already includes a CNC machine, plasma cutter, 3D printers and laser engraver. Much of the equipment was bought with $25,000 in previous agrants that required local matching funds, said Sue Cornell, district Business Manager.

As a condition for grant applicants, the district is required to open up its Fab Lab at times to the public.

This past fall, the school offered an eight-week Adult Fab Lab class, and received a great response, filling the eight-person class and putting three people on a waitlist for the next series.

“During the adult class we learned that a second laser engraver would drastically speed up the engraving/cutting process; this would allow all the students to create more and develop a better understanding around the making process with our Epilog Helix laser engraver,” the district grant application noted. “We have some good momentum around our Fab Lab, and more funding will help our students and community members collaborate and create more … Being on an Island we have the tendency to want to do things for ourselves.”

This fall, separately, Dahlke helped the school win $2,500 in Samsung technology for STEM education kits and setups.