10:25 PM

South Texas College and McAllen Chamber bolster innovation and entrepreneurship in the Rio Grande Valley

Check presentation continues partnership between college and advocates for business in the community

As part of its ongoing partnership with South Texas College, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce held a check presentation that will be used to continue designing prototypes for those participating in the city’s Inventors and Entrepreneurs Network.

At a ceremony held March 8, the Chamber donated $1000 that will be used to underwrite the cost of the program at STC.

“We spend a lot of time working with startups, and it is cool to see the range of ideas that come from people in McAllen,”  said McAllen Chamber president Steve Ahlenius. “We have been helping startups for the last nine years, and so one of the big challenges we have been coming up against is developing working prototypes. We developed this partnership in December with STC and the first outcomes were fantastic and we have more clients who want to develop their prototypes in conjunction with this partnership.”

The McAllen Chamber utilizes a number of programs to bolster innovation in the community. It’s Innovation and Entrepreneur program has been established as a support system so inventors can bring their ideas to fruition. By partnering with STC, the Chamber has found a part of the puzzle that enables inventors and entrepreneurs to offer working prototypes to offer customers and investors.

The presenting of the check follows the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2016.The MOU establishes a cooperative venture to design and create 3D prototypes for inventors and entrepreneurs.

“I’m amazed and I’m quite proud,” said STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed at the check signing. “I think it’s a fabulous idea. I have to applaud the faculty for being so receptive and taking the time to be a part of this project. I thank the Chamber and Mr. Ahlenius’ leadership. This was your initiative and your idea, and we are just glad to be a part of it.”

The agreement essentially paves the way for the college’s Advanced Manufacturing and Architectural and Architectural and Engineering Design Technology Program to begin offering its facilities, 3D printers and instructors to design made-to-order prototypes for private firms and individuals.

The Architectural and Engineering Design Technology Program (AEDT) at STC teaches students design theory along with the various software needed for fields in architecture and civil engineering. Many students go on to find employment in those fields. The program also utilizes 3D printing to interact and work with the business community for the benefits of students and faculty alike.

Working with STC adjunct instructor Norma Madeira, one McAllen inventor Laly Quintanilla said STC created her project within a week. In partnership with the college, Quintanilla developed a combination “cross-body” handbag and cheering prop for sports events

“I began this project about two months ago, and this was our first month that we started working on it. From January until now we had the drawings created as well as the sample made,” she said. “I’m hoping that this can be an item you can take into NFL games for example because it’s within their size regulations, and besides that who wants to carry their personal items in a clear bag.  Now we are looking for a manufacturing company and we are hoping we can find somebody local. After that is done, we will have to have samples made, and then after that we will make sure that the materials and quality we are needing is up to par.”

“For us it’s about professional development. We get to stay up to date with things that are currently happening in the community, and then we get to actually work on something aside from what we do in the classroom with our students,” said Sara Lozano, Program Chair and Assistant Professor for STC’s Architectural and Engineering Design Technology Program. “We are working with specific clients, and that’s really exciting. We get to be out in the business community and be involved with the development of innovative ideas.