Volkswagen E-Labs Open In 8 Hamilton County Schools
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC in partnership with the State of Tennessee and the Hamilton County Department of Education celebrated the grand opening of the Sale Creek Middle High School Volkswagen eLab during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Volkswagen eLabs, which are the result of a $1 million donation by Volkswagen Chattanooga and the State of Tennessee, will provide approximately 8,000 Hamilton County students access to science labs featuring rapid prototyping technologies including renewable energy components, laser cutters, CNC routers, 3D printers, robotics, microcomputers, and vinyl cutters.
The laboratories will be administered in partnership with the Public Education Foundation an independent, nonprofit organization that provides training, research and resources to teachers, principals and schools in Hamilton County.
The Sale Creek Middle High School Volkswagen eLab is one of eight Hamilton County Schools that were selected for the first phase of installations in March of 2017.
The additional seven schools, Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences, Dalewood Middle School, East Hamilton Middle High School, The Howard School, Hunter Middle School, Normal Park Museum Magnet School, and Red Bank High School, are all operational as of the start of the fall 2017 school term.
“At Volkswagen Chattanooga we hold a deep, active and ongoing belief that education, whether at university, a middle school lab or an apprenticeship on the shop floor, is crucial to a successful career,” said Ulrich Heimann, executive vice president of Finance & ITP Volkswagen Chattanooga. “These Volkswagen eLabs will teach hands-on, engineering-based learning, and we are excited that eight labs around the county are opening this school term to engage and inspire the imagination of children throughout the community,” Heimann said.
“Education is one of Tennessee’s top priorities and it’s because of programs like the Volkswagen eLabs that our education system is continuing to succeed,” Governor Bill Haslam said. “Through the eLabs, Hamilton County middle and high school students will have access to innovative programs that will equip them with skills they need to be successful in the future. Volkswagen has been a great partner for more than a decade, and we thank the company for its continued commitment to the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County.”
Each Volkswagen eLab is staffed with a Volkswagen eLabs Innovation Team to ensure utilization to the maximum capacity. The teams are made up of highly trained teachers with specialized skills in facilitating learning through digital fabrication.
“It is great news that eight of the Volkswagen eLabs are opening in Hamilton County,” Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “The eLabs are a great opportunity for Hamilton County students to learn new skills that will help each student be better prepared to enter the workforce. I want to thank Volkswagen for bringing this incredible opportunity to Hamilton County and the state of Tennessee and I look forward to seeing what the eLabs can do for our education system.”
“STEM fields are one of the fastest-growing in our state and our country, and the need for integrated STEM education in Tennessee has never been more critical,” Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “These eLabs will give our students the opportunity to lead the nation in exceptional, hands-on STEM education, uniquely preparing them for college and the workforce.”
The schools are each responsible for raising $5,000 annually in cash or contributed materials to ensure that the lab is continually refreshed and materials are replaced.
HCDE Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson is excited to see what the Volkswagen eLabs will mean to Hamilton County students. “We all know STEM is one of the most important learning tracks for twenty-first century students as there will be 42,000 STEM jobs in the state of Tennessee alone within the next few years. Our amazing partnership with Volkswagen means our students will get the hands-on learning they need to truly be career and post-secondary ready,” said Dr. Johnson.
“This summer, teachers engaged in more than 112 hours of professional development in addition to the countless hours they spent setting up equipment and preparing the spaces. Through this process, a truly collaborative community emerged. From Sale Creek to Howard, from Dalewood to East Hamilton, schools are discovering and sharing strategies to capitalize on this investment in order to maximize the impact on student learning,” said Michael Stone, director of Innovative Learning for PEF. “Volkswagen eLabs will help prepare Hamilton County students for college and career success and they have already marked Hamilton County as an emergent international leader in digital fabrication education,” said Stone.
Schools were selected by representatives from Volkswagen Chattanooga, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Hamilton County Department of Education, and Public Education Foundation.
Hamilton County middle and high schools will be able to apply for funds in 2018 to be chosen for the remaining eight Volkswagen eLabs. By opening 16 Volkswagen eLabs over the course of the next 15 months, Hamilton County schools will lead the nation in digital fabrication in formal education settings.