As It Pulls Up Stakes in Kentucky Town, Toyota Donates Lab for STEAM School

March 17, 2017
By the time Toyota finishes consolidating its operations at the end of 2017, it will have relocated 1,600 jobs from Northern Kentucky to Texas and other sites.

With the help of $6.8 million in renovation money from the state of Kentucky, a former Toyota laboratory will be converted to a high school focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM).

The school will be located in Toyota’s former Quality and Production Engineering Laboratory, on its campus in Erlanger, Kentucky. Toyota is donating the building to the local school district.

In January, Toyota began relocating about 650 jobs from Erlanger to its new headquarters in Plano, Texas and several other sites. By the time Toyota finishes consolidating its operations at the end of 2017, it will have relocated 1,600 jobs from Northern Kentucky. About 8,000 jobs remain in Kentucky at Toyota’s Georgetown manufacturing facility 60 miles south.

The announcement about the new school came on Friday, with  Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin pledging the $6.8 million Work Ready Skills initiative grant to Boone County Schools to adapt the office and engineering lab into a school.

The new high school, scheduled to open in fall 2019, will have an intitial capacity of 1,000 students and be called the Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center. John Roebling, the center's namesake, was a civil engineer who designed the Brooklyn Bridge and, in 1866, the suspension bridge across the Ohio River that connects Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington, Kentucky. 

The school's mission, according to a press release from Toyota, is to “inspire the next generation to be creative and engaged, highly skilled, tech-savvy and work-ready problem solvers.” 

The STEM to STEAM movement is a push for adding art and design to the original STEM education equation, for the engineering, science  and technology jobs of the future.

Boone County Schools will manage the school and own and operate the building, the grounds and all facilities. Plans call for assembling a board of advisors made up of business and other leaders and create a foundation to support the center.

The 183,000-square-foot laboratory has lab and engineering workspaces, high bay equipment areas, office spaces, high ceilings to accommodate robotics/automation, several mezzanines, and multiple elevators. The gift also includes approximately 22 acres of land.

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