SouthWorks MakerLab Network
March, 2015
Network Notes
MakerLab Committee Update

South Suburban College is sending an electronics faculty member to the USFabLab symposium. President Manning has given the OK for plans to create the MakerLab at their Oak Forest campus and to move the electronics program there. Perkins grant applications are being adjusted to support the development of the MakerLab. 

Moraine Valley Community College has several site visits scheduled for the end of March and is considering the possibility of two makerspaces- one internal and another public. Library and CAD/CAM faculty have joined the planning group. 

University of St. Francis' Visual Arts Department has allocated funding to create their arts-oriented MakerLab. Three screenings of Maker: The Movie are scheduled at USF prior to the Dale Dougherty event on March 24th. The first screening was well-received. Attendees were asked to send the event information to all parties who may be potential users or supporters. The SouthWorks MakerLab logo contest at University of St. Francis is underway, and the first round of submissions are due March 18th. 

DeVry's remodeled and expanded electronics lab is set to open in April and provide the basis for their MakerLab. 

Lewis University has established the Center for Scientific Innovation to house the MakerLab planned for the Science Center. Funding has been found. "Girls in STEM" will be a substantial emphasis for the MakerLab. Other committee members have also expressed interest in that segment of potential users. 


The Park Forest MakerLab has equipment and is looking to have programming starting April 30th. Established through SBA incubator funding, the Park Forest space will help entrepreneurs create prototypes and launch their businesses. A small space, it will provide an entry point to the training and maker resources that the rest of the network will provide. In addition, it will provide a testing ground for the rest of the network, particularly regarding programming for the public.


Report from last month's Technori Maker event: The Harold Washington Library's MakerLab will host a meeting of the region's makerspaces on March 30th., which SMHEC will attend. Lane Tech High School has had great success with its newly-opened makerspace and will be putting together a tour for interested parties. 
Connecting with Industry

The SMHEC MakerLab committee discussed the need for our MakerLab network to be responsive to the needs of the area employers and promote their involvement. Doing so is a major reason for our initiative and a major consideration of many potential funders.

Our group discussed various ways to connect with industry. Each institution will seek appropriate opportunities to promote the MakerLab initiative. A large MakerLab-specific event/announcement is not considered as effective as one-on-one meetings with potential partners. Finding several champions to get involved in our project in an advisory capacity would be the best first step and will be brought up to the SMHEC Presidents' Council. Potential champions might be larger employers who already utilize some of the tools or are interested in the benefits of workers with skills. Also, startups who need those skills would be a fertile area to look. Committee members will investigate and report potential connections to these types of firms. The committee also feels we are ready to strengthen our connections with other economic development and industry-oriented intermediaries.

Lewis University Receives First NSF Award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Lewis University a grant for a project entitled "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Connections. The project will provide experiential learning opportunities for students.

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Kankakee Community College and Olivet Nazarene University Participate in County-Wide Business Plan Competition
Together  with local partners, Kankakee Community College and Olivet Nazarene University are participating in the Kankakee County EnterpriseU Business Plan Competition. KCC, through its IL Small Business Development Center, will be providing training and Olivet will provide six months of free membership to the Catalyst Innovation Center.

MakerLab Network Part of Presentation at  I-80 Corridor Event Hosted By Tinley Park

The Village of Tinley Park hosted an event on March 10th for all I-80 Corridor manufacturing firms to learn about opportunities to build their workforce. While business growth will require some expansion, the greatest need will occur as a substantial portion of their skilled workforce will be retiring over the next 10 years. Calumet Green Manufacturing (CGMP) spoke of the programs they have in place with SMHEC community college members to provide for immediate workforce needs, and SMHEC discussed the SouthWorks MakerLab Network and its relevance to the ongoing workforce needs of manufacturers. Through the hands-on experience of new "making" technologies, MakerLabs will interest a wider spectrum of students in manufacturing and provide them with a broader set of the skills required to succeed in modern manufacturing.


Moraine Valley Community College Partners With Local Teen Center for 3D Printing and Design Class

Moraine Valley Community College recently partnered with The Bridge Teen Center in Orland Park to provide The Bridge's high school aged students the opportunity to work with Moraine's faculty to design and create 3D printed objects via a 3-session on-campus seminar.
Kankakee Community College Hosts STEM Boot Camp with Rep. Robin Kelly
 Over twenty-five middle-school students joined US Rep. Robin Kelly at Kankakee Community College for a STEM Boot Camp. The event was intended to expose the young students to STEM through the topics of sustainability and renewable energy. 
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Kankakee Community College To Offer GirlSTEM Events
Kankakee Community College is launching an exciting new program called GirlSTEM to expose girls to careers that revolve around science, technology, engineering and math. GirlSTEM will have fun, yet educational courses this summer.
Kankakee Community College to Offer STEM Guitar Class

KCC is participating in a nation-wide project to have students learn STEM concepts while building an electric guitar. 

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Deloitte/ Mfg. Institute Study Examines The Growing Manufacturing Skills Gap

A recent Manufacturing Institute study done by Deloitte examines the widening skills gap as Baby Boomers retire and the pipeline of talent isn't deep enough or developing quickly enough. Not just a numbers game, finding, attracting, and retaining the right skills is at the heart of the matter. It is no longer simply a short-term issue of filling current open positions.

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Upcoming Events
University of St. Francis Hosts Free Maker Event With Dale Dougherty

USF's College of Business & Health Administration's Business Incubator is hosting a presentation by Dale Dougherty, the creator of Make Magazine  and the MakerFaire concept, and a primary evangelist for the Maker Movement. 


The event is free and open to the public. Please spread the word to faculty, students, and other pontential stakeholders to help build an interest in making in our region. 


March 24, 2015

7:00pm to 8:30pm

Sullivan Recreation Center


Registration is required at


South Suburban College STEM Symposium

South Suburban College will host their second annual STEM Symposium on Friday, March 27, 2015, from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at the college's Main Campus in South Holland. Students and educators of all levels are encouraged to attend this special event.


The STEM Symposium will feature a college and career expo related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The program will begin with welcome remarks from Congresswoman Robin Kelly followed by the evening's Keynote presentation from Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Living.

USFabLab Symposium 


Gateway Technical College in Racine, WI, is hosting the USFabLab Network 

Symposium on March 23-25, 2015.


The symposium will focus on lab startup, leveraging FabLabs for entreprenuership, incorporating the labs into educational programming, and financial sustainability strategies. In addition, tours of Gateway's new Manufacturing Education Center will be available. A variety of equipment vendors will demonstrate projects and capabilities.  Details and Registration