Hemlock Public School District officially celebrated the opening of its Lockwood STEM Center, a new facility that will play home to First Robotics teams from Saginaw County’s rural school districts.
The facility includes a regulation-sized area for robotics competitions, a machining lab, storage space and more opportunities available to students from the Merill, Swan Valley, St. Charles, Freeland and Hemlock school districts.
Hemlock broke ground on the 60-by 80-foot facility in May 2020 and finished most of the construction in late September. Hemlock Semiconductor Operations donated $100,000 to fund the space and also matched an additional $25,000 to encourage contributions by other local businesses and stakeholders.
Members of Hemlock’s Gray Matter robotics team performed a drone flyover to cap off the national anthem, beginning a ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened the facility.
“This STEM center is our baby,” said Hemlock Public School District Superintendent Don Killingbeck. “This is paramount for helping the next generation be ready for the opportunities as they come to them.”
In addition to Killingbeck and Tom Lockwood, the district’s technology director and namesake of the facility, State Rep. Rodney Wakeman, R-Saginaw Township, and Hemlock Semiconductor Vice President of Manufacturing Andy Ault made remarks at the ribbon-cutting. Attendees were then invited inside to view the new space.
“At HSC, we recognize that these students are critical to our future workforce,” Ault said. “Our students deserve access to learning materials and programs that will secure a bright future for them.”
When Hemlock High School senior Matthew Schaffner got into robotics in middle school, he started in a tiny room above the school library. Now, piloting a large bot on the competition field in the new facility, he said having the Lockwood Center is a blessing. He plans to attend Michigan State University in the fall and study mechanical engineering.
“It’s just a wonderful place to be part of a community,” Schaffner said. “I never knew that school could be so fun and still give you so much opportunity.”