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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, September 15, 2017

Volkswagen eLabs open in eight schools




Volkswagen eLabs offer state-of-the-art equipment and a guided learning experience. - Photograph provided

Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, in partnership with the State of Tennessee and the Hamilton County Department of Education, recently 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 about 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. 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 operational as well.

The Volkswagen eLabs will teach hands-on, engineering-based learning, said Ulrich Heimann, executive vice president of Finance & ITP Volkswagen Chattanooga.

“We’re excited that eight labs around the county are opening this school term to engage and inspire the imagination of children throughout the community,” Heimann says.

Each Volkswagen eLab is staffed with a Volkswagen eLabs Innovation Team made up of trained teachers with skills in facilitating learning through digital fabrication.

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.

School Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson is excited to see what the Volkswagen eLabs will mean to Hamilton County students.

“STEM is one of the most important learning tracks for 21st century students as there will be 42,000 STEM jobs in the state of Tennessee alone within the next few years. Our partnership with Volkswagen will give our students the hands-on learning they need to be career- and post-secondary ready,” he says.

Schools were selected by representatives from Volkswagen Chattanooga, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the HCDE and the PEF.

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.