A cutting-edge science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) analytical training laboratory is scheduled to open for summer programs in June.
Central State Hospital's Wilkes Building will house the facility.
A former Drug Enforcement Administration laboratory director, Darrell Davis, wants Milledgeville to become a hub for STEM.
Mike Couch, Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority executive director, said during Wednesday's board meeting that Davis “has minimal work to do to make the building accessible to do his programs.”
“We are in the process of raising funds,” Davis said. “We have to apply for equipment and do minor changes to the building to make it a lab.”
Wilkes is undergoing a redesign with subdivided office space and lab facilities.
With help from CSHLRA board member Bruce Vaughn, Wells Fargo donated thousands of dollars worth of furniture to the Wilkes project through the non-profit campus redevelopment authority.
Davis retired from the DEA in August 2012 and approached the CSHLRA representing his Committee for Action Program Services (CAPS) non-profit. CAPS is a science and technology organization that is located in Cedar Hill, Texas.
The primary objective of the organization is to provide professional development for k-12 science educators and encourage minority students to seek STEM career fields.
Davis started a new for-profit company called CAPS-Analytical Training Laboratory, LLC. He chose Central State to house a CAPS-ATL facility as part of the campus reuse efforts.
Forensics has created a new field of scientific interest. CAPS-ATL could turn research into entrepreneurial opportunities.
From elementary school to college level, insufficient instrumentation access limits national advancement in analytical and forensics fields. CAPS-ATL plans to bridge the gap.
Simple projects introduce children to the STEM world, as Davis desires to bring youngsters and professors from all over the country in for instrumentation access.
The 10,000 square feet Wilkes building will offer a consortium of colleges and universities a well-equipped, centralized CSH laboratory.
Dr. Runne Sallad, principal of Georgia College Early College and several parents have and will continue to meet with Davis to discuss the planned summer programs.
“They've already started the process of recruiting kids for the program,” Davis said.
The introductory CAPS-ATL slate starts June 2 and ends June 27. The first two weeks will be for 15 high school students, and the final two weeks include 15 middle schoolers.
Wilkes will host all Summer Science Academy sessions. Each student pays an introductory price of $100 a week.
Summer programming teaches the young students the ins and outs of instrumentation.
After this first and only summer academy, Davis said the yearly CAPS-ATL programs will probably run an individual student near $3,000.
“As you can imagine, we aren't looking to get that directly from the kids,” the lab director said. “That's when we would partner with foundations and organizations to raise that money through grants.”
CAPS-ATL has support from the DEA, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and NASA, according to Davis.
Davis recently presented the STEM lab idea at the White House.
“We've made it to that level,” he said. “Now, it's just about getting funding to grow it across the country.”
The CSHLRA will soon enter into a Memorandum of Mutual Support with CAPS-ATL.
The STEM lab desires to form a “collaborative relationship with the CSHLRA on projects and opportunities that align with their missions while benefiting the community as a whole.”
DEA and STEM grant support monies are available to build and conduct the local program. All funds go toward student training.
Davis said the partnership with the authority and other non-profit entities opens these state, federal and foundation grant opportunities.