Abington debuts maker space/innovation hub

Regional business and elected officials joined Penn State President Eric J. Barron last week to dedicate the Penn State Abington LaunchBox at the Abington Art Center. A $50,000 seed grant from Invent Penn State fast-tracked the development of the first co-working space, innovation and idea hub in Montgomery County.

Barron, Abington Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler, and other key players praised the strategic investments and private-public partnerships that breathed life into the maker space.

“Spaces such as LaunchBox enable students to intersect with the community and drive economic growth that will benefit Abington and the region,” Barron said. “It’s a new era of university collaboration.”

“LaunchBox unites technology, the arts and entrepreneurs. We look forward to new businesses and associated jobs.”

-- Doug Callentine, chair of the Abington Township Economic Development Committee

Doug Callentine, chair of the Abington Township Economic Development Committee, called LaunchBox a prime example of thoughtful development and reuse.

“The University is a leader of responsibly-minded development, which includes the construction of its first residence hall,” he said, referring to the University-owned apartments scheduled to open in 2017. “LaunchBox unites technology, the arts and entrepreneurs. We look forward to new businesses and associated jobs.”

maker space

Abington faculty Joe Oakes and  Zafer Hatahet played key roles in the development of the Penn State Abington LaunchBox at the Abington Art Center.

Image: Dan Z. Johnson Photography

Abington LaunchBox serves as an idea lab, tech springboard and meet-up space for entrepreneurs from the college and the region. The maker space intentionally blurs the boundaries between analog and digital, art and science, traditional and experimental. Computers, laser and vinyl cutters, and 3D printers live side-by-side with sewing machines, saws, and tools of all description.

Students involved in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and engineering) disciplines demonstrated equipment and shared plans for Abington LaunchBox.

“It’s a great opportunity to see ideas take shape, from concept to reality,” Ashaundei Smith, an art major who minors in entrepreneurship, said. He is also a veteran of the United States Air Force.

“It’s a great opportunity to see ideas take shape, from concept to reality.”

-- Ashaundei Smith, art major and entrepreneurship minor at Penn State Abington

Abington competed with other University locations for one of six seed grants from the Invent Penn State initiative. The criteria included an existing culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, potential for success, and partnership and support within the community and region.

Invent Penn State plans to invest a total of $150,000, and donors more than matched those funds for Abington LaunchBox. The space is located in a township-owned historic manor home, which also houses the art center. The 27-acre wooded site is less than five minutes from the college's campus. 

 
maker space

Dedicating the Penn State Abington LaunchBox, from left: Neil Sharkey, vice president for research; Tara Wehmeyer, Abington Township assistant manager; Abington Art Center Board Chair William Meyerowitz; President Eric J. Barron; Penn State Abington Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler; Madlyn L. Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth campuses; Madeleine Dean, state representative, 153rd District; and Doug Callantine, chair, Abington Township Economic Development Committee.  

Image: Dan Z. Johnson Photography

About Invent Penn State:
President Eric J. Barron launched the $30 million initiative last year to leverage the University’s research, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to drive job creation, economic development and student career success.

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Last Updated June 10, 2016