Building up STEAM for Arrowhead engineering, manufacturing spaces
Local businesses backing new renovations

By Lauren Anderson - Freeman Staff

June 10, 2015

TOWN OF MERTON — Construction is now underway at Arrowhead High School as businesses continue to support a renovation project aimed at preparing students for the future workforce.

The new learning space at the South campus will include a manufacturing lab, two engineering labs, an innovation lab and a design center.

The renovation resulted from discussions among Arrowhead officials and local business leaders concerned about encouraging students to pursue careers where there are worker shortages, while preparing them for the work environments they will encounter after graduation.

Local manufacturing and engineering firms have committed a total of $260,000 to date toward the project, putting the school halfway toward its startup fundraising goal. Among those firms are Ace Precision, Bradley Corporation, Dorner Manufacturing, MidWest Engineered Systems and Price Engineering, as well as an anonymous donation. The innovation lab will be open for other students to use as well for collaboration, planning and brainstorming, Superintendent Craig Jefson said. That reflects the integration of skills and fields in the 21st century, he said, in which manufacturing, engineering, design and art are no longer distinct fields, but rather all work together.

That’s the idea behind the so-called STEAM movement, which adds art into the equation that includes science, technology, engineering and math.

Waukesha County Board Chairman Paul Decker, cofounder and director of Maverick Innovation Lab in Delafield, attests to the changing work environment in manufacturing and engineering.

“People have this traditional thought of manufacturing and it is rapidly disappearing,” Decker said. “It includes all different elements ... In the old days it was about making stuff, now you are a part of the design process.”

Jefson said the innovation lab design will be inspired by Maverick Innovation Lab, which features open spaces and white boards conducive to collaboration.

Decker said brainstorming and building off each other’s ideas is key to any person entering the workforce.

“No one is by themselves,” he said. “ Work is done in teams. It’s all done by listening and working with each other. (The space) fosters collaboration and propels the team. That skillset will be necessary for careers of the future.”

Arrowhead is seeking another $250,000 from businesses to equip the new spaces. The School Board has committed to the renovation.