UPDATE: The ribbon has been cut, and the new VW eLab at Hixson Middle School is officially open.

Tuesday, Governor Bill Haslam, Mayor Jim Coppinger and Mayor Andy Berke joined students, parents and community leaders for the ribbon cutting.

The eLab at Hixson Middle School is one of eight being launched in Hamilton County schools this year.

"The Hixson eLab and the other seven locations are part of a Volkswagen eLabs initiative to provide students with access to digital fabrication tools including automated manufacturing equipment, programmable microcomputers, renewable energy kits, 3D printers, robotics, and laser cutters that will empower the young learners to engage in authentic problem-solving," Tim Hensley of Hamilton County Schools explained.

The eight new eLabs opening this year are part of the second round of eLabs to be funded by a donation from Volkswagen Chattanooga and the state of Tennessee. There are now sixteen eLabs in Hamilton County Schools.

“The Volkswagen eLabs have created excitement for learning, and you can see that in the eyes of the children in the labs,” Dr. Bryan Johnson, Superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, said. “These labs open a new world of possibilities in instruction for teachers and prepare students to be future ready.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Eight additional Hamilton County schools will receive Volkswagen eLabs.

The recipients, which were announced Tuesday, are:
•    Brainerd High School
•    Brown Middle School 
•    Center for Creative Arts
•    Hixson Middle School
•    Hixson High School
•    Ooltewah Middle School
•    Orchard Knob Middle School 
•    Soddy-Daisy Middle School

These schools represent the second round of recipients of Volkswagen eLabs. The eight schools in the first round of recipients opened their eLabs last August.

“The results of the Volkswagen eLabs have been inspiring. I look forward to seeing the additional eight labs operating and cultivating an atmosphere of learning and exploration,” Nicole Koesling, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga said. “At Volkswagen, we are dedicated to the principles of education and training, and the eLabs are certainly a major piece of this, enhancing the quality of education available to young people throughout our community.”

16 Hamilton County Schools now have eLabs, which, a VW spokesperson said, fulfills VW's promise to open a total of 16 eLabs in Hamilton County over a period of two years. 

PREVIOUS STORY: German automaker Volkswagen has partnered with Hamilton County Schools to open an eLab at Sale Creek Middle High School, part of a donation of $1 million by Volkswagen Chattanooga and the State of Tennessee.

The new lab is the first of eight in Hamilton County, according to a news release.

Nearly 8,000 Hamilton County students will have access to the science labs, which feature rapid prototyping technologies such as renewable energy components, laser cutters, CNC routers, 3D printers, robotics, microcomputers, and vinyl cutters.

Sale Creek Middle/High School Volkswagen eLab was the first of the eight Hamilton County Schools selected for the first phase of installations in March of 2017. 

The other seven schools whose eLabs were operational at the start of the 2017 school year are:

  • Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences
  • Dalewood Middle School
  • East Hamilton Middle High School
  • The Howard School
  • Hunter Middle School
  • Normal Park Museum Magnet School
  • Red Bank High School

“At Volkswagen Chattanooga we hold a deep, active and ongoing belief that education, whether at university, a middle school lab or an apprenticeship on the shop floor, is crucial to a successful career,” said Ulrich Heimann, Executive Vice President of Finance & ITP Volkswagen Chattanooga. “These Volkswagen eLabs will teach hands-on, engineering-based learning, and we are excited that eight labs around the county are opening this school term to engage and inspire the imagination of children throughout the community,” Heimann said.

Each Volkswagen eLab is staffed with a Volkswagen eLabs Innovation Team to ensure utilization to the maximum capacity. The teams are made up of highly trained teachers with specialized skills in facilitating learning through digital fabrication.

The schools are each responsible for raising $5,000 annually in cash or contributed materials to ensure that the lab is continually refreshed and materials are replaced.

Hamilton County middle & high schools will be able to apply for funds in 2018 to be chosen for the remaining eight Volkswagen eLabs. By opening 16 Volkswagen eLabs over the course of the next 15 months, Hamilton County schools will lead the nation in digital fabrication in formal education settings.