The Ashley Furniture Mobile Skills Lab had its grand opening on Tuesday, October 9. Educators and community leaders were joined by Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Ashley Furniture Chairman and Founder Ron Wanek for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The lab originally debuted at the Ashley for the Arts festival this August. It will serve over 3000 students this year from across four school districts: Whitehall, Independence, Blair-Taylor, and Arcadia. Students will get hands-on experience operating advanced manufacturing technology like programmable logic controllers and robots from industry-leaders Amatrol and FANUC.
The lab will spend one quarter at each of the four school districts in the Trempealeau Valley Co-op. Instructor Zach Olsen from UW Stout will remain with the lab as it travels and will teach advanced manufacturing courses.
LAB Midwest’s Mike Dietrich was on site at the ceremony and remarked on Olsen’s passion as a teacher. “Zack has undertaken a tremendous responsibility to not only get kids excited about this new technology, but also to ensure that his students are meeting the strict academic standards for transcripted credits at several technical colleges and universities.”
Olsen was among the first instructors to receive training on brand-new Industry 4.0 curriculum in preparation for this semester. This training took place at Gateway Technical College’s iMET Center, and over 30 other schools and colleges across the nation have implemented the curriculum this fall.
The Mobile Skills Lab was made possible through a donation by Ashley Furniture’s Education Foundation. “It is clear to see Ashley Furniture and all of the educators within the co-op are working to make a difference in the community to help solve the serious problem of a shrinking workforce across all industries and career paths,” remarked Dietrich.
Other schools and organizations are taking notice of the Mobile Skills Lab. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards featured the lab on the front cover of their October 2018 edition of Wisconsin School News journal.
LAB Midwest is proud to partner with Ashley Furniture and many other manufacturers who are investing in their local schools to give students hands-on experience with authentic industrial technology. To read more success stories, click here, here, and here.