Chattanooga Fabrication Institute Offers Teachers High Tech Development

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Public Education Foundation, in partnership with Hamilton County Department of Education, Hamilton County Education Association, and the NEA Foundation, announces the inaugural Chattanooga Fabrication Institute.  The institute, one of three major initiatives funded by a $150,000 grant from the NEA Foundation, will bring more than 200 educators from across the United States to Chattanooga for a one-of-a-kind professional learning experience leveraging the recently established Volkswagen eLabs in HCDE schools. 

The four-day digital fabrication institute offers participants an opportunity to engage in authentic experiences with 3D printing, laser engraving/cutting, vinyl cutting, CNC routing, micro-computing, and more. Each morning will kick off with a keynote address from national STEM leaders, including “STEM Gems” author, Stephanie Espy, and founder of Maslo, Ross Ingram. Participants will then be shuttled to nearby HCDE schools where Volkswagen eLab specialists (the full-time specialized teachers in these labs) and other HCDE teachers will facilitate learning activities. In this “educators supporting educators” model, the facilitators will unpack not only the basics of how to use the tools, but also the nuances of using state of the art technology to deliver highly effective learning experiences for students, said officials.

“Chattanooga is quickly becoming identified as a leader in digital fabrication education," said PEF President, Dr. Dan Challener. "The institute allows us to share this innovative work with the country." 

The institute is a strategic effort to expand the impact of the innovative initiatives launched in recent years. The impact of the institute will not only be felt regionally, it also aligns with several goals recently identified by HCDE leadership, said officials.

“The Volkswagen eLabs give students the unique opportunity to develop the gifts they know they possess and discover untapped talents that can inspire a life-long love of learning,” said HCDE Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson. 

Volkswagen eLabs have made HCDE schools a leader in digital fabrication education, said officials. The institute will capitalize on the revolutionary labs by giving HCDE teachers a platform to share the work that is impacting their students.

“The Chattanooga Fabrication Institute will give local teachers an opportunity to lead innovative educators from across the country by sharing best practices as they continue to pioneer work in this field,” said Michael Stone, PEF director of Innovative Learning.

“The Fabrication Institute provides a unique opportunity for area educators to develop cutting edge skills that will impact teaching and learning in classrooms throughout the region,” said HCEA President Dan Liner. “I'm especially grateful that the NEA Foundation has provided funding for the Institute that otherwise would not be available. “ 

Thanks to the support of the NEA Foundation and the partnership between PEF, HCDE, and HCEA, registration for the institute is free for educators. The institute will take place in Chattanooga, June 18-21. More information, including links to register for the event, can be found at 

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