Industry Connections Report | 2019



Breanne Kanak, who teaches art and design in the White Lake School District, learned a lot about failure during the Discovery Center WiFab Retreat at UW-Stout. She loved every minute of it. “We had to design, iterate, trash and finalize our projects and challenges,” Kanak said. “Every day there were moments that were humbling, frustrating, empowering and even inspiring. It was just like teaching; except this time, we were the students, in all our anger and glory,” Kanak said. In addition to overseeing a variety of business oriented outreach services, the Discovery Center also works with K-12 educators in the Fab Lab. This unique collaboration can also provide businesses who partner with UW-Stout with opportunities to participate in this type of outreach as well. UW-Stout hosts the annual WiFab Retreat West, a five-day summer immersion in design and digital fabrication for middle and high school teachers. Another retreat is held in Appleton. This is just one of the many ways the Discovery Center connects learning at all levels with business and industry practices. The goal is to help teachers not only how to learn to use Fab Lab equipment but to have meaningful instruction for their students that enhances education. “What we’re offering is the STEM curriculum and how to use the resources in the school to support and enrich STEM education,” said Ken Welty, a retreat instructor from UW-Stout’s School of Education.

Attendee Mark Westlake said the retreat’s “try-it style of instruction allowed me to assimilate to the equipment right away and gave me focus when working through curricular questions.” UW-Stout’s Discovery Center Fab Lab was founded in 2013 with the assistance of a multiyear $520,000 Growth Agenda award from the UW System. It features digital fabrication machines that are programmed through computer software. In addition, UW-Stout has developed a web portal,, that allows Fab Lab schools to communicate with one another on issues such as curriculum development and implementation; equipment usage; and training.

WiFAB participants apply new skills and work on projects at the UW-Stout Fab Lab.


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