By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 17, 2020 at 3:30 PM

Six MPS middle schools will get digital fabrication labs this year as part of the final phase of a 10-year GE Foundation grant, the foundation and Milwaukee Public Schools announced Wednesday afternoon in a joint press conference.

The GE Innovation Labs will be installed at Andrew Douglas, Wedgewood Park International, Audubon Technology and Communication, Hayes Bilingual, George Washington Carver Academy of Math and Science, and Rufus King International Middle School.

The labs are expect to help students, "learn, create, play and invent utilizing problem-solving skills, teamwork and tools for authentic problems. Local businesses will be invited to share some of their product challenges for students to solve."

Each of the at least 1,000-square-foot labs will be equipped with new laser cutters, vinyl cutters, multiple 3D printers, CNC routers, graphic design software, soldering stations, multiple types of saws and sanders.

Construction of the labs is expected to begin within a few weeks and be completed in time for the return of students to school, whenever that may be. At the moment, MPS middle and high schools are planned to open Aug. 17, but what the future holds in the face of the ongoing pandemic is anyone’s guess right now.

"These innovation labs will assist in our commitment to accelerate student achievement and cultivate leadership among our students," MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley said. "We are proud our current partnership with the GE Foundation has culminated with this resource to provide our students."

The labs are being entirely funded by the grant, which also includes funding for teacher training and lab supplies.

"These labs are not just about learning how to use new tools. They will help to develop students as adaptive problem solvers for jobs that haven’t even been created yet," said GE Foundation Executive Director David Barash. "Over the past decade, we have been proud to work with MPS."

GE and MPS have had a long fruitful relationship that has included, among other things, annual school building refreshes by volunteers from GE.

Here's hoping the company signs on to support Milwaukee Public Schools students for another 10 years.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.