Believing that students can be innovators, designers and inventors who can impact the world through their gifts, Oaks Christian School is establishing an unprecedented IDEA Lab—Innovation, Design, Engineering and Aeronautics. The 10,000-square-foot facility will be like no other in the Conejo Valley, giving OCS students a jump in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) career paths.

The central hub of this new space is the 4,000-square-foot fabrication lab, which will house metal and wood fabrication machines, 3D printers and a variety of other useful tools, such as Haas tools that are typically reserved for college fabrication labs or industrial labs. The lab will allow students to make basically anything, including robots, aerial and underwater drones, rockets and even basic prosthetics.

In addition to the fabrication space, the IDEA Lab will house five classrooms: physics, robotics, electrical engineering, computer science and a flex room, as well as a reception area, conference room and faculty room.

“With the advent of internet search engines, it isn’t enough to recall facts and information anymore. Our students need to possess skills and talents that involve 21st century critical thinking, a curious and innovative spirit, grit, collaboration and strong character,” says Associate Head of School for Academics Dr. Matt Northrop. “Coupled with our amazing faculty, this lab will provide our students with the skills and mindset to go out and become difference-makers.”

Students will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from top-notch OCS science faculty, including Amanda Turk (MIT), Tyler Hernandez (Cal-Poly) and Juan Velasquez (Berkeley and UCLA), as well as retired engineers, machinists and guest lecturers.

The Engineering Department will provide four potential pathways: aerospace and rocketry, robotics, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. In addition to the amazing program that already exists in the middle school, the middle school robotics team will have access to the new VEX robotics lab.

OCS seniors will have the opportunity to create a culminating Capstone Project to identify real-world problems, develop solutions through trial and error, and then provide those solutions to people, schools, villages or organizations in a way that will improve quality of life.

“For example, our students can build simple but helpful prosthetic limbs for people who may not live in a place where those types of medical services are provided or cannot afford a fully-functional prosthetic limb,” Northrop says. He further envisions a schoolwide collaborative effort where the film students would travel to the village where the limb recipient lives and document the experience.

Oaks Christian aims to partner with local engineering companies and entrepreneurs to provide internships for the students, as well as expertise to the classes.

The first phase, including the wood fabrication, metal fabrication and robotics labs will open fall 2018. The second phase, which includes the electrical engineering lab, computer science lab, new rocketry lab and physics lab, will open in summer 2019.

For more information, visit OaksChristian.org.