By Amanda Amsel
Students at West High School are celebrating the opening a new lab that will give them a leg up on other students across the state.
West High School recently celebrated the opening of their Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab). The lab features state-of-the-art equipment worth over $500,000.
“The lab was funded by the Straight A Grant from the Ohio Department of Education,” said Jason Johnson, principal of West High School. “The objective of the grant was to provide funding for innovative education.”
The lab will primarily be used by the STEM school’s engineering students. Students in the school’s civil engineering and architecture program, manufacturing operations program and engineering technology program will use the equipment to complete their course work.
Some of the equipment students will be using includes a 3D printer, a vinyl cutter and a laser engraver.
“This maker space will allow students to bring their theories to life,” Johnson said. “Using engineering software students can create their ideas.”
School officials say that the experience students will get from learning how to use this modern equipment is invaluable and will help them as they decide their careers.
“All the students who are in these programs get an opportunity to see if these are the right careers for them and this new lab is part of that,” Johnson said.
Any student who takes any of the classes in the approved programs will get to use this equipment as part of their courses. However, school officials hope in the future to make the equipment available to other departments as well. In fact, the school’s drama teacher has also been trained on the equipment.
“They are interested in using the 3D printer to build stage items,” Johnson said. “Next year we may look at also having a course associated with the lab. We want anyone who is interested to have an opportunity to use this equipment.”
Besides West High School other central Ohio districts like Hilliard, Reynoldsburg and Pickerington received the same grant and created their own Fab Labs. However, according to Johnson, West High School has the only stationary lab. All the other districts created mobile labs they could transport between their middle schools and high schools. West High School has their middle school students come to them so they don’t have to worry about moving expensive equipment.
“I am really excited for the opportunities this will bring our students,” Johnson said. “Students will get to see what it is like to have a career in these fields and decide if it is right for them.”
Currently, instructors at West High school are being trained on the equipment and the school plans to start training students during the summer.
For more information on the Fab Lab at West High school, visit www.wesths.ccsoh.us.