At Startup Alleghenies we know that our future depends on creating a nation of innovators and makers, not just consumers. And having the resources and space available so a Maker’s idea can become a reality is just as important as educating the “Makers” of tomorrow.
That is why one of our partners, Catalyst Space (www.catalystspace.org), builds lasting relationships with the most cutting-edge businesses and educators at the top of their field.
“We want to break down the walls that prevent entrepreneurs from doing what they want to do by providing access to the kind of technology they can’t afford and can only dream about,” said Andrew Texler, Catalyst Space co-founder and chief tinkerer.
At their location in downtown Altoona, entrepreneurs can produce small batch, custom prototypes of their unique ideas, with the help of state-of-the art equipment and expert coaching from founders, Justin Merrell and Andrew Trexler. “We offer state of the art advanced manufacturing capabilities, unique educational experiences, and a creative environment where anything is possible if you can imagine it,” added Trexler.
Companies rely on Catalyst Space, not only for prototype development, but also for small scale manufacturing of products when only a limited number is needed.
But another key aspect of their mission–perhaps even at the heart of what they do – is an educational program, Club Co-Create, aimed at inspiring, engaging and aiding makers of tomorrow to love learning. Club Co-Create offers local students a different kind of STEM experience from the traditional classroom. (STEM encompasses science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.) The curriculum is based on collaborative, hands-on and project- based learning that engages their critical, analytical, lateral, research, and mathematical skills.
“But the cool part,” explained Trexler, “is that kids have fun while they’re learning math theory and proofing it with real world experiences.” For example, seventh and eighth graders from Penn Cambria designed their own fidget spinners, calculated tolerances, profit margins, and optimized manufacturing times to create 2,000 spinners to sell.
The Makers Movement, which is about taking risks to create unique, custom products is transforming both the business and education landscape. For our region, it has the potential to energize the individual entrepreneur and bolster a new kind of “manufacturing renaissance” in our region.
To learn more about Catalyst Space and Club Co-Create, visit the Catalyst Space website or call 1.814.201.2196.
Startup Alleghenies is on a mission to bring greater economic vitality to the region by creating an ecosystem for success that recruits and supports entrepreneurs. Launched in June 2017 by the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC), Startup Alleghenies entrepreneurs are mentored by coaches who provide 360 support to help them navigate a vast network of partners at economic development groups, private organizations, investors and universities–all working together to bring talent, new businesses, and jobs to the region.
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“I think we’ve probably hit peak Silicon Valley, and we need to figure out ways to have a more diverse, inclusive economy. We want the rust belt to become the startup belt.”