ARM Institute Announces $6M in Funding of Four Makerspaces Through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant
The Makerspaces, located in Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Indiana, and Westmoreland counties, will provide regional manufacturers and entrepreneurs with access to equipment, knowledge, and other resources. Collectively, the four maker spaces were awarded $6M over a period of four years.
May 5, 2023 – Today the ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute announced the funding of four Makerspaces provided by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Region’s Build Back Better initiative awarded through the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Makerspaces are led by the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Penn State New Kensington, and Westmoreland County Community College. This funding will enable each Makerspace to build upon their existing capabilities and offer support to a greater number of organizations and individuals interested in advanced manufacturing technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Collectively, the four maker spaces were awarded $6M over a period of four years.
The ARM Institute is the nation’s leading robotics Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Since 2017, the ARM Institute has worked with its nearly 400 member organizations to catalyze 120+ robotics and workforce projects to strengthen U.S. manufacturing. The Institute facilitates collaboration between industry, government, and academia to propel solutions that address urgent needs in manufacturing. Operating as a non-profit organization, the ARM Institute acts as an honest broker between robotics and manufacturing stakeholders.
This funding will build upon existing capabilities within the Makerspaces, enhance their equipment and offerings, and make their services more readily available. The services offered through each Makerspace are unique. Through the grant, the ARM Institute will advise the Makerspaces and help to expand the scope of their services to benefit small and medium-sized manufacturers and manufacturing entrepreneurs.
“The Makerspaces will provide manufacturers and entrepreneurs throughout the Southwestern Pennsylvania region with easy access to equipment and services that may otherwise be inaccessible to them,” stated Jay Douglass, ARM Institute Chief Operations Officer, “These organizations’ Makerspaces were selected for funding because they already have advanced capabilities and have been making a positive impact in their communities. The ARM Institute looks forward to helping them expand their impact and connect with new audiences, including small and medium-sized manufacturers.”
The ARM Institute recently announced the availability of its Robotics Manufacturing Hub (the Hub) program, also funded through the Southwestern Pennsylvania region’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant. The Robotics Manufacturing Hub helps small and medium sized manufacturers evaluate their operations, understand if robotics can address their challenges, and prototype robotics solutions at no cost. Learn more about the Robotics Manufacturing Hub and/or indicate your interest in using the Hub here.
Learn more about each Makerspace below:
Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
CCAC’s Entrepreneurial Labs and Makerspace
Justin Starr, Endowed Professor of Advanced Technology, [email protected]
Debra Killmeyer, Dean & Assistant VP of Workforce Development, [email protected]
Community Colleges are engines of regional economic development by providing affordable opportunities for upskilling, training and pathways to family-sustaining wages. CCAC’s Entrepreneurial Labs & Makerspace dramatically expand this by providing community access to advanced manufacturing, robotic and automation equipment. Located at the college’s West Hills Center, the Entrepreneurial Labs & Makerspace will contain a variety of machining equipment, 3D printers, collaborative robots, high end computer workstations, soldering stations and other resources that will allow community members to fabricate prototypes, products for sale, and digital resources at an extremely low cost. The Entrepreneurial Labs & Makerspace also provides a secure coworking location and office space for individuals seeking to create or scale innovative business ideas. CCAC’s Entrepreneurial Labs and Makerspace are located in Oakdale, PA – minutes from I-79, I-376 and the Pittsburgh International Airport.
The Digital Foundry at New Kensington (DFNK)
Penn State New Kensington
New Kensington, PA
Contact: Sherri McCleary, Executive Director, [email protected]
The Digital Foundry at New Kensington (DFNK), located at 855 Fifth Avenue in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, is a 15,044-square-foot innovation and manufacturing lab space aimed at driving economic growth through technical assistance and skills training in digital manufacturing technologies. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with the latest in digital manufacturing hardware, software and industry certifications to support training and technical assistance projects. With a dedicated staff, bringing decades of industry experience, the DFNK offers capability and competencies in industrial robotics; smart sensing and edge computing; data analytics; digital automation; computational modeling and digital twins; IIoT; connected systems; and digital threads. A partnership between Penn State New Kensington (PSNK) and the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland, the DFNK is just one block away from PSNK’s Invent Penn State innovation hub, the Corner LaunchBox, an established entrepreneurial learning and coworking space offering programming to help entrepreneurs and small businesses accelerate their growth and de-risk their business. Led by PSNK, together the DFNK and Corner Launchbox offer a regional innovation hub for entrepreneurial and workforce training, making and de-risking, with a focus on the latest in smart digital manufacturing technologies.
IUP STEAMSHOP, Indiana, PA
MADE IN JOHNSTOWN, Johnstown, PA
IUP [email protected] Armstrong Innovation Park, Freeport, PA
Dr. Frederick Adkins, IUP STEAMSHOP Director, [email protected]
Michael Rottman, MADE in Johnstown Director, [email protected]
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant will fund an innovative entrepreneurial makerspace ecosystem spanning Armstrong, Indiana, and Cambria counties. This collaboration includes Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s STEAMSHOP, an IUP-led robotics and electronics-focused STEAMSHOP satellite site at RIDC Armstrong Innovation Park and MADE IN JOHNSTOWN. These makerspaces will offer equipment and services that cater to specific regional needs while sharing resources and programming to maximize impact and reduce duplication of effort. The initiative will bring valuable skills, training, and equipment to residents of the three counties, offering a wide collection of technology and machinery for prototyping, building, and manufacturing products. The project also includes educational training in entrepreneurial and business skills, which will be coordinated centrally and shared across all three counties.
Westmoreland County Community College
Contact: Dr. Byron Kohut, Dean, School of Technology, [email protected]
With several years of experience in mentoring and housing start-up ventures, Westmoreland County Community College is excited to announce the development and creation of our MAKERSPACE District! With regional funding from Build Back Better, MAKERSPACE District, part of Westmoreland County Community College, is a dedicated entrepreneurial/makerspace program to solidify and formalize a sustainable model of promoting and assisting entrepreneurial successes in southwestern Pennsylvania. MAKERSPACE District will be a center for excellence, taking entrepreneurs from the garage to the marketplace by providing a geographically accessible manufacturing location, entrepreneurial support services, and access to existing technical programming and equipment. Westmoreland has a long history of connecting students, existing companies, and start-ups with the larger ecosystem of workplace, economic development, and business support agencies.
ABOUT THE ARM INSTITUTE
The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute is a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004 and is part of the Manufacturing USA® network. The ARM Institute leverages a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem almost 400 consortium members and partners across industry, academia, and government to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience. Based in Pittsburgh, PA since 2017, with an office in St. Petersburg, FL, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people & robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products. For more information, visit www.arminstitute.org and follow the ARM Institute on LinkedIn and Twitter.