TOWN OF BELOIT

Beloit Turner High School on Monday got a $25,000 grant to expand its fabrication laboratory and a visit from Gov. Tony Evers, who praised the school district’s project during the state’s “Fab Lab Day.”

Speaking to the junior and senior classes, Evers touted the statewide grants as a “really, really competitive program,” saying 58 Wisconsin schools applied for the grants and only 20 won.

“The fact that Beloit Turner was one of 20 recipients statewide speaks highly about the work that’s done so far in the fab lab,” Evers told an audience of about 225.

Fab labs are high-technology workshops equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components, such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters.

The grant comes as the Beloit Turner School District plans a fab lab upgrade and expansion thanks to a successful $26 million referendum in November. The district will use the money to build a $22 million elementary school and update its technology and manufacturing classrooms at the high school.

“A huge part of the reason this referendum succeeded was because of what will be a renovation and addition and expansion of our STEAM area,” Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said during Monday’s event.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

More than $4 million of the referendum borrowing is allotted for upgrading STEAM classrooms at the middle school and high school. Upgrades will include a 2,000-square-foot expansion and 5,000 square feet of renovations, which will more than double the school’s programming space.

Evers did not answer questions from the media Monday.

State Reps. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, and Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, and state Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, also spoke.

Ringhand said students exposed to advanced manufacturing and technology trades early are more likely to pursue careers in those fields. She said the world is changing, and it’s important to “learn early what you can do and have flexibility to change when this world changes.”

Spreitzer praised the community for approving the November referendum and said fab labs demonstrate how classroom lessons can be applied to careers.

Loudenbeck congratulated the district and said she hopes students are inspired to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the expansion.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. awarded $520,399 in grants statewide.

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