Four new mobile fabrication laboratories (fab labs) to help students build science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills made their debut in Los Angeles County. California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) together with Toyota (No. 34 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) and the W.M. Keck Foundation came together to create the fab labs, which will become part of a global network of nearly 900 mobile labs that share common equipment and software. The unveiling and demonstration took place Wednesday, September 27 at 10 a.m. at CSUDH.
The dedication event included science activities for local middle and high school students, and special remarks from Toyota representatives, CSUDH administrators, and superintendents from regional school districts.
“Many of the schools the fab labs will visit do not have the space or resources to develop high technology-driven programs that teach digital fabrication, or the computational literacy skills that prepare youth for college or the global workplace,” said Willie J. Hagan, president of CSUDH. “Thanks to Toyota and the Keck Foundation, we are now much more equipped to transform engineering and mathematical concepts that are theoretical and physically put them in the hands of students to bring STEM to life.”
Co-developed by Motivo Engineering, CSUDH’s mobile fab lab project addresses several issues at the heart of the STEM crisis: the need for qualified science and math teachers; a need to inspire K-12 students through engaging STEM experiences; and the need for more women and minorities graduating with STEM degrees and pursuing careers in related field.
The labs are equipped with tools and technology, such as laser cutters to create 2D and 3D structures, 3D printers, and electronic components for prototyping projects. Pulled by four Toyota Tundra trucks, the fab labs will travel throughout the South Bay and the greater Los Angeles region to serve local schools, bringing the learning to students, educators, and communities.
“The fab labs are a significant tool in helping further STEM teaching and learning, which is critical to the future of California’s youth, and local and national industries seeking a larger pool of talented STEM graduates,” said Mike Goss, general manager, Toyota Social Innovation, who will speak on behalf of Toyota during the dedication. “Investing today in hands-on, creative, and exciting experiences for young people will pay dividends for local industries and America’s workforce now and in the future.”
The Condition of STEM 2015 – California, ACT report found that of graduating seniors who took the ACT exam 75 percent demonstrated college readiness in English, 57 percent in reading, 62 percent in mathematics, and 52 percent in science. In the case of science readiness, only 26 percent of African American and 30 percent of Hispanic graduating students attain ACT college readiness benchmarks, compared to 71 percent of white students and 68 percent among Asian students.
The fab lab dedication also featured science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related activities for students from local middle and high schools, and an award ceremony for top science projects, as well as remarks by Toyota and local education leaders.
In addition to the fab labs, the Toyota USA Foundation has donated $4 million to support the design, construction, and equipment for CSUDH’s Toyota Center for Innovation in STEM Education(Toyota Center), which will be housed in the university’s new 87,000+ square foot science and innovation building.