New Fab Lab Promotes Careers in Science, Techology, Engineering and Math

DCTC Partners with Apple Valley High School to Provide More Career Options for Students

Last week representatives from DCTC and Apple Valley High School unveiled a new “Fab Lab” at the school.  The Fab Lab is a high tech workshop aimed at promoting additional learning opportunities for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

The lab is a result of a $3 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Labor.  “We’re so excited to be able to offer this learning experience to students interested in the sciences,” noted Apple Valley High School E3 STEM Program Manager,STEM-2 Jim Lynch.  “It really opens the door for our under represented students to think about education and careers in STEM.”   STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  The grant is designed to bring under represented, diverse, first generation students in to the STEM fields.

DCTC STEM Coordinator Kristy Kellogg added, “The Fab Lab offers students an opportunity to explore a STEM-related career in an hands-on manner.  For example, we have may businesses looking for female computer programmers.”

Apple Valley High School’s Fab Lab will help students who may not have considered college or students who would not be interested in pursuing a career in a STEM-related field.    The new Fab Lab features 3D printers, laser engravers, a vinyl cutter.  In addition there’s a heat press, which can be used to make T-shirts, hats and other items. There’s also a full metal shop with a plasma cutter.

The Fab Lab gives students an opportunity to work on equipment such as Stratasys 3D printers and other equipment such as laser cutters and interactive IT equipment among other things.  The use of this equipment can give them a leg up for future careers and the knowledge of how to use them.  “E3 STEM students are taking courses in high school at DCTC and Inver Hills Community College in STEM-specific curriculum,” Kellogg noted.  “It’s a great opportunity for students who would like to try a STEM field and see which track works best for them.”

Currently, there are about 60 students taking courses in the Fab Lab, along with about 130 students enrolled in STEM who use the lab for coursework. Students involved in science-related extra curricular activities — the school’s Rocket Team, the FIRST Robotics club, and Science Olympiad — also have access to the lab for projects.

Apple Valley High School’s Fab Lab is one of just a handful of such labs in the state. Mahtomedi High School has one, and Prior Lake High School launched a Fab Lab this year.


Photos courtesy of Apple Valley High School