Office of the Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch
Office of the Lt. Gov, Rebecca Kleefisch - Press Release

A Fabulous New Take On Manufacturing

Friday, November 7, 2014 - Press Release

Here in Wisconsin, we are passionate about training our future workers and creating a healthy economy where everyone who wants a job can get a job. But while we still have a big gap between the number of open jobs (regularly about 75,000 on our free job search website, www.jobcenterofwisconsin.com ) and the number of workers with the skills to take them. (There are usually about 43,000 resumes posted on the same website.) In the Walker-Kleefisch Administration, we’re infusing our technical colleges with the resources they need to get people trained and into the workforce. But those are the workers of today. What about tomorrow? The answer to that question is why I was so excited to visit Three Lakes High School to see students and teachers open Wisconsin’s first-ever K-12 “Fab Lab”.   
A Fab Lab isn’t a lab where you get fabulous…it’s an interactive and hands-on opportunity to learn engineering, advanced manufacturing, problem-solving and entrepreneurship through fabrication. The Fab Lab students will literally take their own cool ideas and make them real with 3D printers, laser cutters and interactive consultations with engineers around the world. Fab Labs exist at some of our state technical colleges and UW-Stout has one, too, but Three Lakes is on the cutting edge of competitiveness for K-12 schools looking to train their students to be uniquely prepared in the workforce of the future. Not only will students learn science, technology, engineering, art and math in the Fab Lab, but kids will be able to develop and sell their own products, learn how to identify target markets and strategize about how to commercialize their ideas.
The Fab Lab also familiarizes young people with one of Wisconsin’s chief industries, manufacturing. Because manufacturing is growing in our state and we still combat some outdated stereotypes about manufacturing jobs, the Fab Lab will also help students understand what manufacturing looks like today, and how manufacturing jobs may hold the key to unlocking bright futures. Governor Scott Walker said, “We want our young people to know that their community celebrates its welders and machinists just as much as it does its doctors and lawyers.” We do, and we will! Especially in Three Lakes. 
Statewide, we have been on a tour awarding Fast Forward grants for groups eager to train qualified workers for jobs…fast. At the State of Wisconsin, we’re proud that the Fab Lab used a Fast Forward grant to kickstart a future manufacturing worker renaissance in Three Lakes. The Oneida County Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with the Three Lakes School District and others, received a $132,385 grant to help train 44 high school students for careers in manufacturing. Programs like Fast Forward and the Fab Lab are part of a broader effort to help high school students embrace opportunities in manufacturing. 
When technology and ingenuity come together and are paired with the entrepreneurial spirit of Wisconsinites, great things happen. Thanks to the cutting-edge efforts and outside the box thinking of people and organizations like the Three Lakes School District, Wisconsin will continue to be at the forefront of technology and industry.