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A trailer with colorful design that reads Grenada's Fab Lab
GSD Communicator

On Feb. 20, the district unveiled its new Mobile Fab Lab. The traveling STEM lab is the result of a collaboration of Grenada School District with the Grenada Public Education Foundation and local industry.

The eye-catching, 38-foot trailer and F-450 Ford towing pick-up, donated by Kirk Auto Group. Milwaukee Tool made a generous donation for state-of-the-art fabrication equipment and tools to make the rolling classroom a training ground for students and community members interested in joining the growing local workforce.

A visit from a Gulf Coast school administrator and conversations with local business leaders turned a “fab” dream into a reality for the Grenada School District in a matter of six months.

On Feb. 20, the district unveiled its new Mobile Fab Lab at a showcase event highlighting Project Lead the Way’s impact profile on Grenada. The new lab is the result of a collaboration of Grenada School District with the Grenada Public Education Foundation and local industry.

The eye-catching, 38-foot trailer and F-450 Ford towing pick-up, donated by Kirk Auto Group, was wrapped by Scott Lovelace with a design from artists at many of the sponsoring businesses. Milwaukee Tool, which is preparing to open a new manufacturing plant in Grenada, made a generous donation for state-of-the-art fabrication equipment and tools to make the rolling classroom a training ground for students and community members interested in joining the growing local workforce.

The idea for the Grenada Fab Lab started with a visit by Dr. John Mundy, manager of the Fab Lab program through Jackson County Schools near Ocean Springs. He brought the district’s mobile lab to Grenada late last summer and showed off the high-tech fabrication equipment, including a laser engraver, a computer numerical control (CNC) router, a vinyl cutter, and 3D printers.

Mundy spoke to administrators and business leaders about how the mobile lab helped students learn the engineering design process and allowed them to practice on actual industry tools. He said that in the seven years that Jackson County has had the Fab Lab, 75,000 students and teachers across the Gulf Coast have seen it. “It has allowed us to motivate students and show them what’s available in STEM careers,” he said. “I truly believe a Fab Lab will make a difference in an area where people have access to it.”

For Grenada, the Fab Lab helps address the growing workforce shortage in Mississippi by introducing students to modern tools and strategies prevalent in industries setting up operations in the state. 

“The workforce is changing rapidly, and we’ve known that we have to quickly adapt our educational strategies to prepare students for the specialized skills and knowledge required to compete for jobs,” said GSD Superintendent Dr. David Daigneault. “We’re lucky to have access to people at local industries like Milwaukee Tool, Modine, ADP, Novipax, Entergy, Resolute, and others to keep us up-to-date on these fast-moving changes. The Fab Lab will be an excellent way to quickly develop, showcase, and give students access to this new training.”

Grenada’s Fab Lab project has brought industry partners from different disciplines to work together and help GSD design the look, layout, and select equipment that will be featured in the Fab Lab. 

Sherry Worsham, Director of Program Development at GSD, said Fab Labs are meant to be collaborative spaces where community members, students, and DIY enthusiasts learn and acquire new skills related to digital fabrication.

After installing equipment and training instructors, the district plans to organize workshops and training sessions to teach individuals across the schools, businesses, industries, and the community how to use the equipment and software available in the Fab Lab. 

“If everything moves forward according to plan, we hope to pilot a workshop or two this summer or, at the latest, in early fall,” Worsham said.

The district plans to make the Fab Lab available not only to Grenada students but to community members and students in neighboring districts.

“It’s amazing how quickly this project came together, and it’s all thanks to our partners in business and industry,” Daigneault said. “They recognize the need for robust workforce development, and we’re honored that they see us as willing and capable partners in helping make that happen in Grenada.”

Businesses that sponsored the Fab Lab include Kirk Auto Group, Milwaukee Tool, ADP, Entergy, Modine, Novipax, and Resolute Forest Products.