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In The News
Here is some of the news including Envite Design. We are becoming a part of the community and look forward to helping you expand your reach in your community whether that be with a new product or a new youth oriented design program, a new website or a new team.
January 20, 2016

Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn

By Greg Abazorius

Brad Presler and a Fab Lab Boston intern designing Flick Basketball 2.0 using arduino and infrared sensors
Mel King, Director of the Boston Fab Lab

Mel King reaches across his desk at the South End Technology Center (SETC) and grips a glass Mason jar, the type that has become a staple in restaurants and often shows up at weddings and other parties. But King’s jar is different.

Affixed to the side is a gray plastic handle, one that King easily stretches his long fingers into, demonstrating how one could use it as a coffee mug.

“A student mentioned that a diner nearby was serving hot beverages in glass jars,” says King, the center’s director and founder. “But you had to wait for the drink to cool before you could ever pick up the glass.”

King and others at SETC, including volunteers from Wentworth Institute of Technology, decided to use one of the on-site 3D printers to design a handle that would perfectly match the contour and size of the jar. After five different prototypes using a plant-based plastic, the winning design was found.

Located in a brick row house in Boston’s South End, the SETC opened in 1997 and provides free or low-cost access and training in most aspects of computer-related technology to low-income community members. SETC services more than 800 children and adults annually with patrons ranging in age from 5 to 82. Through its community work study program, Wentworth’s Center for Community and Learning Partnerships places students each semester with SETC who share the organization’s love of technology and the desire to expose more youth to the opportunities that STEM fields offer.

“People who use the center can learn about tech, get help with resumes, and learn how to apply for jobs, among other things,” says King. “My first responsibility is to make sure that people learn something valuable, and Wentworth has been a great help with that.”

James Salvatore is an example of a Wentworth student who has contributed greatly to the SETC, having worked in it “Fab Lab,” which provides the MakerBot 3D printers and other digital equipment to the general public. Salvatore's skills garnered as a Wentworth student allow him to mentor others, while the machines at the center provide a space for him to hone his craft.

“It’s been a great opportunity,” he says, while AutoCAD [SOLIDWORKS] software runs in the background. “I really like working with others and helping them figure out how to use something, or create something.”


Salvatore recently worked on [electrifying] a miniature basketball game [originally created by Envite Design and L2TT2L youth teachers], roughly the size of a shoe box. Created using SETC software and machines, the prototype features a stand up hoop with backboard and a catapult apparatus that sits atop a faux court. Items can be placed into the catapult before they are launched toward the hoop.

Salvatore notes that he has helped several SETC students design their own models.

“I think that volunteering with the center is rewarding for a Wentworth student, and it’s wonderful for us,” says Susan Klimczak, director of youth education. “I stress the mantra of ‘learn to teach, teach to learn.’ It’s a multi layer effect. Someone like James can document his work and then teach it to others.”

SETC staff members all have extensive backgrounds in computer technology and their applications, including Klimczak who was a faculty member at Audubon Expedition Institute. King, meanwhile, was formerly a professor at MIT.

In addition to mug handles and basketball games, other recent projects include the creation of a circuit board, as well as a solar-powered phone charger that can be mounted on public benches.

“The students’ work has been wonderful and I’m very pleased,” Klimczak says. “Wentworth has been a great partner and a big help.”

Northeastern University Pitch Day

Innovation & Entrepreneurship - News @ Northeastern - Link to Article

IDEA, School of Law team up to support local startups


A new collaboration between IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, and the School of Law’s Community Business Clinic offers Boston-based entrepreneurs support and free business and legal advice.Through a new partnership between IDEA and the School of Law’s Community Business Clinic, the Boston-​​based entrepreneurs unaffiliated with Northeastern have been accepted to the university’s student-​​run venture accelerator for the first time ever.


The clinic, directed by law professor Peter Sessa, offers law students real-​​world experience in providing free, business-​​related legal services to startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in the Boston area.


“This is the real practice of law,” Sessa explained. “It’s not a simulation course. We expect the unexpected.”


Sessa’s clinic teamed up with IDEA to provide three of its clients with business support from IDEA that is typically reserved for startups with a Northeastern affiliations. Previously, unaffiliated clients could attend workshops and receive coaching from the IDEA staff but could not get funding—until now. IDEA’s $1,000 Prototype Fund Grants will be available to these ventures.“


The value added is the coaching, mentoring, and business planning support we can provide them,” said Max Kaye, CEO of IDEA. “This was a community outreach opportunity for us.”


Practice Gigs, a social networking platform that helps athletes find practice partners, is among the first group of local ventures selected through a new partnership between IDEA and the School of Law’s Community Business clinic.


Students in the clinic selected three of their clients to join IDEA: Pixel Life, an underground and hip-​​hop clothing brand founded by Northeastern psychology major Vlad Dim­itrov, S’15; Envite Design, a design and production company; and Practice Gigs, a social networking platform that helps athletes find practice partners.


Toni Oloko, the 17-​​year-​​old Boston Trinity Academy student who started Practice Gigs, spoke highly of working with Northeastern. “My experience with IDEA and the Community Business Clinic has been great,” Oloko said, noting that a mentor at the Small Businesses Association referred him to the law school clinic. “With their help, Practice Gigs Inc. attended NEXPO in November, but more importantly we have received advice on our business model and business plan.


”Kaye has received positive feedback from all three ventures, which have already attended workshops on business modeling, pitching, and financing. Last month, Envite Design joined Practice Gigs in participating in NEXPO, a biannual entrepreneurship exposition hosted by IDEA.


The law students, for their part, are also benefiting from this new partnership. According to Sessa, their service has taught them the importance of collaboration and delegation.


“All new lawyers experience some stress because they think they need the answers to all their clients’ questions,” Sessa explained. “My students learn the value of collaboration and being able to send their clients to another resource for certain questions.”


January marked the beginning of the law school’s second quarter of the year, which means new clients and new students for Sessa’s clinic. Both he and Kaye said they hope to add three new ventures to the IDEA family in addition to the original three, which are expected to continue working with IDEA.


“The sky is the limit as far as I’m concerned,” Sessa said.This entry was posted in Business & Economy, Campus & Community and tagged community, entrepreneurship, IDEA, partnership, school of law, startups, ventures.

Business - Boston Globe - Link to Article


Community-based labs nurture young talent

Fab Labs, which began at MIT, could bloom under bill in Congress

By Taryn Luna |  Globe Correspondent  

 April 01, 2013


Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Volunteer Brad Presler at Boston’s Fab Lab.

Brad Presler in front of the ShopBot in the Boston Fab Lab

When he was little, Jemuel Stephenson had the bug to make things.

So when he was 10, his mother took him to Fab Lab, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology creation that provides free access to sophisticated computer-controlled manufacturing equipment.

“It was just like heaven,” Stephenson, now 18, said recently as he was using the equipment at one of the labs, a mobile facility sponsored by MIT, to make an acrylic model of a turbocharger for car engines.

A senior at Community Academy of Science and Health, Stephenson is going to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania this fall to study engineering. And he is confident his hands-on experience at Fab Labs, creating things as diverse as cases for iPhones and furniture, gives him a leg up on other students new to the subject.

“The Fab Lab definitely helped me develop and nurture my ­passions,” he said.

‘It’s very empowering for a young person to actually build something.’

The mobile facility, as well as a Fab Lab at the South End Technology Center, are part of a patchwork of some 40 labs around the United States and 80 worldwide. Their fortunes range from well-endowed to hand-to-mouth; the South End one, for example, was short of money and closed to the public for the better part of 2011.

But their financial standing — not to mention availability — could take a huge turn if a US representative from Illinois persuades Congress to create a nationally chartered network for the US labs, to improve their fund-raising abilities, particularly for government money. The measure, which Democrat Bill Foster introduced in March, also calls for placing a Fab Lab in every congressional district.

His goal is, in essence, is to bring the tools of innovation to Main Street.

“It’s very empowering for a young person to actually build something,” Foster said. “Kids no longer take apart automobile engines. You can’t realistically take apart an iPod, like you could a radio. This is giving kids the opportunity for innovation.”

Although Foster’s legislation would not provide direct government funding, it would establish a nationally chartered nonprofit network, run through the Fab Foundation.

Chartered status is essentially an endorsement from the government and would allow agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to provide funding, said Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, who created the first Fab Lab.

He said the network would be in a better position than individual labs to apply for grants and donations from other funders, from philanthropies to workforce training and development programs.

The first Fab Lab was opened by MIT in 2003 in the South End as an outreach component of a grant from the National Science Foundation. The school wanted to provide a scaled-down version of its own high-end digital fabrication lab to boost innovation and improve manufacturing skills.

Now MIT has taken a mostly advisory role. The university maintains the labs’ shared online network and provides blueprints for new labs. It also funds the mobile lab, a roving trailer packed with equipment you would find in a stationary Fab Lab.

Unlike the one in the South End, most of the other Fab Labs were created by community organizations; the National Science Foundation funded the first 12 labs, while the rest raised money on their own.

The Fab Lab concept spread mostly by word-of-mouth and through MIT’s providing outreach to communities.

Some were started in public schools and community colleges and receive public funds; others are private entities that charge for some services but also raise money to maintain access for low-income residents.

Although the individual labs are not represented by a central organization, they are loosely organized under the Fab Foundation, a nonprofit group that aims to support the labs.

On one recent afternoon, the South End lab was, as usual, full of teens. Simon Phung, 14, was making stickers printed with a friend’s name, while 20-year-old fab extraordinaire Phi Ngo was training volunteers to teach youngsters how to use the machines.

A tinkerer by nature, Brad Presler was developing a prototype of a heated planter box with automatic controls that uses LED lights to grow greens in any environment. He hopes to sell it to large home-supply companies.

Like many other budding entrepreneurs, he did not have the money or equipment to develop his business until he found the lab.

“This is a huge find,” Presler said of the lab. “This is exactly what I needed for a long time.”

The director of the South End lab, former state legislator and Boston mayoral candidate Mel King, said it costs several hundred thousand dollars a year to run the facility, with the outlay for equipment and computers running to about $50,000.

Although MIT pays the lab’s rent and provides some materials, the Fab Lab survives mainly on fund-raising and donations.

King appeared frustrated that the congressman’s bill would not directly provide money to labs such as his, which are in need of resources.

“If they want to see more people have access and become skilled and knowledgeable, why wouldn’t they provide resources to make it happen?” King said.

Foster, a Harvard-trained physicist and businessman, tried to get the labs chartered with legislation in 2010; this time his bill has 15 cosponsors so far.

Foster is optimistic because Democrats and Republicans alike want to provide young adults with skills for careers in manufacturing and advanced technologies, he said, and the Fab Labs provide hands-on learning.

“Anyone who is interested in this should go see a Fab Lab,” he said. “You come away from them just smiling. You see the huge range of bright ideas that kids are pursuing, things you never would have guessed.”

Taryn Luna can be reached at

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