Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State recently received a $50K grant from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education to purchase equipment for its makerspace and community operating workspace, a place where people with common interests in technology, science, digital art and innovation can meet to collaborate.
The Job Training and Education Programs Grant Agreement is the result of a request made by Penn State Berks to State Senator Judy Schwank’s office.
“Penn State Berks LaunchBox is a unique resource based in Downtown Reading that serves as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation in our community,” said Senator Schwank. “This investment of state funds will allow the LaunchBox to provide entrepreneurs with the latest technology and tools they need to develop and grow their entrepreneurial vision into successful ventures. I was pleased to have played a part in securing grant funding to support this effort.”
Currently, equipment at the LaunchBox includes 3D printers, a laser cutter, vinyl plotter, laptops and small hand tools. The grant will allow the LaunchBox to greatly increase the equipment available for Berks County community members to use for education and prototyping.
Plans are in motion to purchase large prototyping equipment including an enclosed CNC machine, Resin 3D printer, heat press and a new laser cutter. Teaching technology will also be upgraded to include smart boards, higher end laptops to run engineering and design programs, and photography and videography equipment. The supply of small hand tools will also be expanded to include drills, miter saw, drill press, palm sander and more. The co-working space will benefit with interactive white boards for collaboration and expanded access to software to better support growing startups.
Equipment will be purchased over the next six months, with the grant period ending Dec. 31. As LaunchBox staff install the new equipment, classes will be offered and the community will gain access for prototyping needs.
“The Berks LaunchBox is excited for the opportunity to further expand our makerspace and better meet the needs of community members prototyping product ideas for new or existing companies, as well as hobbyists interested in tinkering with equipment and tools. We are grateful to Senator Judy Schwank’s office for seeing the value in hands-on inventing and supporting our community initiatives to offer prototyping equipment to create the products of the future in Reading, PA,” stated Erica L. Kunkel, interim director, Berks LaunchBox.