Penn State York funds 'Working Class' space downtown
Penn State York is partnering with local entrepreneurial advocates to launch an innovation hub in downtown York.
The makerspace facility, called Working Class, will open in the fall, according to Erin Casey, a co-founder and board member of the nonprofit organization.
With a $25,000 investment from a university venture called Invent Penn State, students from Penn State York’s Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies will be able to utilize services from the workshop hub set to open in the Rudy Art Glass building on West Philadelphia Street.
The facility will have equipment and software for entrepreneurs to create and develop products for real-world use, according to Working Class representatives.
During a ribbon-cutting event for Working Class at Penn State York on Wednesday, Aug. 9, Penn State York Chancellor David Chown praised the work of the Graham Center, located on campus, for fostering entrepreneurship at the campus.
He also confirmed "the rumors are true" about a commitment by the center's namesake and Graham Group founder Don Graham to build a new brick-and-mortar site on the Penn State York campus.
“We don’t want this to be a seed grant that runs out in three years,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “We want to give you that money in perpetuity.”
Speaking at the Pullo Center at the Penn State York Campus, Barron said the project could serve as a catalyst for minority students to enter business.
“Rarely do first-generation students go out to be entrepreneurs, because there’s risk,” he said. “We want York to be a destination for innovation.”
Casey said the Working Class location downtown will be a “unique opportunity to bring the local higher-education community (together) with local hobbyists.”
The makerspace hub has been in the works since 2014 and is the first of its kind in the county, Casey said.
Josh Carney, a member of the Penn State York Advisory Board, said the new makerspace will give resources to students to realize their product ideas, including a digital lab, a 3-D printer and other automated machines.
Start-up winners: The commonwealth campus also announced the winners of the first annual Start-Up Challenge, which had Penn State York students compete with original products from the conceptual phase to a working prototype.
The top prize of a $2,000 investment went to students who built Home Solutions, a product that controls devices across the home including lights, security systems, door locks and Nest thermostats.
Barron tested the product himself, calling it “very cool,” and the students behind Home Solutions promised they would keep developing the product.
$1,000 prizes were given out to second- and third-place winners Sharp Vision, which created contact lenses that fight against potentially dangerous blue light from device displays, and Ceaventor, a jacket that can charge mobile devices on the go.
Details about Working Class membership and an official opening date are still unknown, but more information can be found in its official website at www.workingclassyork.com.