As technological advancements continue, tech-related fields continue to be the fastest-growing going into 2020. A STEM-education based lab is bringing an immersive experience to students in Harrison County and surrounding areas to help them develop the necessary skills before entering the workforce.
The mobile lab, also called Fab Lab, is a joint project of Chevron, the Mississippi Power Foundation and Chemours.
The third of its kind to be introduced on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Fab Lab will not only help students develop critical thinking skills, but will also provide opportunities to learn through hands-on activities equipped with current technology in the engineering industry.
Local students, teachers, community members, and the public will have access to the Fab Lab, which will give opportunities for STEM education, as well as learning, research, experimentation, and business.
Stefen King, a computer science and math teacher, is excited for the introduction of the Fab Lab in Harrison County, as it will allow his students to get acquainted with new things, as well as encourage them to pursue a STEM career.
“It’s exciting because we do a good job with what we have now teaching and got students in the computer lab. But having the products where they can actually apply the program that we’re doing makes all the difference. Especially when they can get engaged,” King said.
King stressed the need not only for computer programmers but for a diverse group of programmers as well.
“The Fab Lab makes it easier for us to bring in tools that we wouldn’t normally have,” King added.
Robert Mills, environmental manager at Chemours, said he did not get into engineering until he got to college. He said the lab will allow students to immerse themselves in career options before stepping foot on a university campus.
“This has been a dream for quite some time, so we are extremely excited,” said Ann Holland, Mississippi Power community development representative. “We can promote STEM and STEAM in our future workforce, our communities, and our students. It was the vision and passion that Chemours, Chevron and Mississippi Power all have to grow our future workforce.”
Dr. Carla Evers, superintendent of Pass Christian Public School District, said the skills students will acquire from the Fab Lab will have long-term effects on the world around us.
“I think today’s children need something like this,” Dr. Evers said. “They need opportunities to think critically and to work in teams and learn how to persevere when they come up against problems and issues. They’re going to solve the problems of the world. They’re going to solve problems we don’t even know exist yet.”
Workforce development is just one of the positives to come from the Fab Lab, according to Amy Brandenstein, Chevron community engagement specialist: “Education and economic development are linked, and it is essential that our future workforce be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities they’ll have before them. For our industry, emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is critical,” Brandenstein said.
“The Fab Lab in Vancleave and the existing mobile Fab Lab unit have already been very successful and have reached thousands of students. We’re excited to work with Jackson County School District, Chemours and Mississippi Power Foundation to bring a new mobile Fab Lab to serve students in Harrison County and the surrounding areas,” Brandenstein added.