General Electric Co. plans to show off a tricked-out trailer filled with 3D printers, laser cutters, and milling machines Thursday, a centerpiece of the company’s $25 million, five-year donation meant to boost technology education at Boston Public Schools.
The vehicle was designed with the Fab Foundation, an educational project that emerged from MIT and has put similar collections of industrial equipment in hundreds of locations around the world. GE’s version, which the company calls a “Brilliant Career Lab,” will be paired with online quizzes and other information to help students research possible careers in science and technology fields.
The company is scheduled to debut the mobile fabrication lab Thursday at Excel High School, a college preparatory school in South Boston. The mobile lab will also make two-week stops at other high schools in the Boston Public Schools system, GE said, with hopes to eventually bring similar labs to other cities.
Kelli Wells, education director for the GE Foundation, said the company decided to sponsor the high-tech equipment and accompanying lesson plans after working with school officials and parents to identify areas where its donations could make a difference.
Students who try out the lab will be able to follow lessons in creating wearable electronics, for example, using software to design a concept and the lab’s equipment to make circuit boards and other components for a finished prototype.
“They’re not just seeing something that’s on a screen,” Wells said. “They’ll actually get to make that creation.”
GE first outlined its educational donations this spring, part of a broader $50 million charitable campaign benefitting Boston and other Massachusetts cities.
The donations followed some criticism of the multimillion-dollar state and city subsidies that helped lure GE’s corporate headquarters to Boston from suburban Connecticut, a relocation announced in January.
GE said its $25 million in educational contributions also will help bankroll computer science courses and assistance for teachers in science, tech, engineering, and math.
In addition, GE has pledged $15 million to Boston’s community health centers and $10 million for manufacturing-related training programs in areas outside of Greater Boston, beginning in Lynn and Fall River.
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that the Fab Foundation is not currently part of MIT.