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November 2016

TPP Makerspace Fuels Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Economic Growth

Maya Nitzberg

Entrepreneurship, Maker Education, Makerspace, STEAM

The Impact of Maker Education and Real Business Opportunities for Teens

This Spring, The Possible Project (TPP) launched a co-branded partnership with Commonthread, a lifestyle brand of DMC threads, dedicated to serving the stitchers and makers of the DIY movement. Over twelve weeks, 12 students researched product ideas, conducted a market survey and developed a prototype to then pitch to VP’s of Commonthread. Out of the 12 designs that were pitched, two were chosen to take to market. These designs included a coaster and tissue box.

Rochellyne Altidor is a senior at Prospect Hill Academy in Cambridge, MA. She is a leader in her community, a friend to all, and co-founder of Relieve8, but if you had asked her a few years ago if she saw herself as a “Maker” her response would be “no way!” This project encouraged Rochellyne to think creatively, as a consumer and a brand strategist, and her eyes were open to so many possibilities. She now calls herself a “Modern Maker” and is currently exploring careers in STEM. Rochellyne’s tissue bix is now on sale for $19.99 on Commonthread’s website.

Nabi Tall, recent high school graduate of Cambridge Rindge & Latin came up with the coaster prototype (above), which came to him after several sessions of research and market surveys. Nabi calls himself a “tinker” and a “maker” but until now, has always been intimidated by the equipment in TPP’s makerspace. He is excited to introduce his ideas to the world, be a role model for other black male designers and hopes to utilize his design and makery skills in a career one day. You can find Nabi’s coaster’s on sale for $24.99 here.

Today Nabi and Rochellyne work part-time for Made Possible, a professionally managed, in-house business of TPP where students participate in creating retail products and custom design and fabrication projects for external clients. As they employ the latest design software and manufacturing tools alongside design professionals at TPP’s Kendall Square Makerspace students refine business and design skills they’ve developed at TPP in service of their independent businesses. TPP’s makerspace is equipped with digital fabrication technology ranging from laser cutters, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, sublimation printers and computers with professional-grade design software. In Made Possible, students are learning how to use this equipment and design software and work on projects with real clients, going through the entire scope of product development to manufacturing.

The partnership between The Possible Project and Commonthread provides real-world design & production experience that will only make enduring personal and professional success more likely for students like, Nabi and Rochellyne, This is an example of how an exciting opportunity allowed The Possible Project to structure their educational classes as projects for clients like DMC, complete with initial consultations, project timelines and end deliverables. This experiential system, coupled with their already robust educational curriculum related to software and maker equipment, was extremely impactful for these students.

These types of experiences fall in line with educational initiatives across the country leveraging Makerspaces to encourage students to innovate, develop new skills, and pursue entrepreneurial ideas. As stated in this EdTech article, “Kids are learning how to think entrepreneurially and develop skills that are going to be invaluable. It’s like training today for jobs that don’t exist yet.” The Possible Project continues to seek B2B opportunities as we expand our Makerspace programming into Boston. In addition to being a customer, you can help identify our next business partner! For inquiries, contact maya@possibleproject.org.

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