Summer, 2015
Network Notes   
MakerLab Committee Update
It was a busy, exciting summer for the SouthWorks MakerLab Network. Our progress is beginning to accelerate.
Prairie State College opened its MakerLab, with public memberships available.

South Suburban College moved its electronics and manufacturing labs to its Oak Forest campus. These labs will be part of the MakerLab complex. The MakerLab space proper is undergoing its final touches before opening.  

Joliet Junior College's MakerLab space is nearly complete. Several classrooms around the CAD/CAM lab are being used.

Lewis University has purchased additional equipment and will develop a large, highly-visible space across from its main cafeteria as its MakerLab.

Resources were identified:
  • A new IIT IPRO will kick off soon with its goal of helping us create MakerLabs that are inviting to potential users beyond the typical engineering and Computer Science population. Ray Klump from Lewis University will be working with the IIT IPRO team on this project of significance to all of our MakerLabs.
  • SEE Chicago, a non-profit educational organization, presented to our committee on the successful student maker entrepreneurship course they have designed and delivered over the past five years to K-12 students across Chicagoland. We are exploring how we can use it as a potential Summer Camp next year.
  • Likewise, we've begun discussions with the Museum of Science & Industry's FabLab about potential Summer Camps. 
  • IIT's Institute of Design and its IPRO team combined to provide our MakerLab coordinators and staff a user-centered design workshop. The workshop provided design theory and a hands-on prototyping experience that will help MakerLab employees better support users who are building commercializable products and could also be the basis for MakerLab-based programming.  

We garnered some good press over the summer, too:
  • We held an Innovation and MakerLabs event at IIT's IdeaShop in partnership with the Calumet Area Industrial Council(CAIC). CAIC members and other local businesses learned about the benefits of MakerLabs and other innovation resources.
  • The Southland and our MakerLab network received prominent mention in Cook County's presentation to the US Dept. of Commerce on its 5-year Economic Development Plan.
  • We were mentioned as an important component of Illinois' innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure in the state's Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC) newsletter.
We are excited at the possibilities to build on our momentum.

SouthWorks MakerLab Prairie State College Opens


Prairie State College's MakerLab is open to students and the public. In addition to offering access to the typical MakerLab equipment, PSC is opening up access to its other manufacturing and tech labs. Users can demonstrate proficiency with the equipment or take certification workshops to learn the safe operation of the equipment. Once certified, users are able to use the MakerLab to create their own projects and continue to receive support from MakerLab staff. A full Grand Opening event is planned for later in the year.       

High School Faculty MakerLab Workshop Held
In July, South Suburban College, Governors State University, and SouthWorks MakerLab Park Forest combined to offer the initial High School Faculty Maker Workshop. Participants learned about the machines and software in the MakerLab, completed projects using the MakerLab resources, and received resources to help them incorporate making activities into their classes. The class was a pilot of programming that we will roll out across the network in an effort to connect with middle and high schools to embed making into education in our region.
KCC Hosts Accelerate 2015 entrepreneurship program
  Over 60 entrepreneurs participated in the Accelerate 2015 Small Business Conference and Expo on August 5th. Attendees learned  best practices in small business financing, record-keeping, exporting, customer service, digital marketing, human resource management, and much more. Keynote speaker Bill Guertin, CEO of The 800-Pound Gorilla, a leading sales consultancy, discussed sales strategies for small businesses. Lunch keynote speaker Keith Aichele, CEO of Misaic, a nationally recognized organizational and growth consultancy for small business, discussed using customer analytics for smart growth.
Chicago Southland Mini-MakerFaire

Several SMHEC/SouthWorks MakerLab Network members participated in the Second Annual Chicago Southland Mini MakerFaire held August 22nd at the Pipefitters Training Center in Mokena.


Praire State Colllege and South Suburban College exhibited their MakerLab and STEM programs and Park Forest brought several robots to show off its MakerLab. SMHEC, which participated in the event's planning, represented the entire SouthWorks MakerLab Network and displayed the High School Faculty Workshop.


Read More  


Event website

      Top of Page 

Maker Entrepreneurship Program
In conjunction with the IL SBDC at Governors State University, OAI, and Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation (CSEDC), SouthWorks held its first Top Maker Entrepreneurship program. All participants had existing businesses or ideas for new businesses involving a physical product. Some required prototyping while some had a product but needed help with particular issues that diminished their growth. Participants learned about design, prototyping and manufacturing issues from instructors from Caterpillar, Governors State University, IIT and more. Marketing and other business issues were also covered, and visits to existing manufacturing businesses in the area provided participants with a first-hand view of business operations and an opportunity to learn from successful entrepreneurs the real issues they face. At the end of the class, several participants used the MakerLab and product development experts to begin prototyping their products.     
SSC Holds Manufacturing & Electrical Engineering Open House
On August 17th, South Suburban College held a Manufacturing and Electronics Engineering Open House at its Oak Forest Business and Career Institute to promote the move of those programs from the main campus to the Oak Forest location. Instructors spoke about the benefits of careers in manufacturing, tours showcased the new labs and student projects, and hands-on activities gave attendees a flavor of the training. The updated and newly located labs will be part of the MakerLab complex, which is set to be completed soon.                                                                           

SouthWorks MakerLab Park Forest Wins Another SBA Accelerator Challenge 
The SouthWorks MakerLab Park Forest is a winner of the US Small Business Administration's Accelerator Challenge. Park Forest also was a winner in the inaugural challenge last Fall. The Challenge provides $50,000 to 20 innovative incubator/accelerator programs, with particular emphasis on those that promote manufacturing.

Read More