K12 summer tech tracks

By: | October 24, 2018

Startable Pittsburgh fosters local teenagers’ entrepreneurial and maker skills in a free, eight-week summer program that offers two makerspace tracks.

The 2018 tracks were fashion and music, while past tracks have included metalworking, woodworking and textiles.

Founded by the Innovation Works seed stage investor and its AlphaLab Gear hardware accelerator program, the program maintains a 1-4 mentor-student ratio.

Nearly 60 percent of the 16- to 18-year-old students are female, and 90 percent are minorities.

Applicants do not need to present grades or portfolios to be considered.

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“We want to know how they learn, who they learn best from and how we can help them” says Staci Offutt, Startable Pittsburgh’s program associate. “We are leveling the playing field for those who couldn’t afford to take art and music lessons for years.”

In this year’s tracks, 42 students designed, branded and marketed tangible products utilizing makerspaces and mentors from Community College of Allegheny County and a local YMCA. Each student received a $500 cash stipend and up to $500 for supplies.

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Music students learned the technical side of music, including how to set up a microphone, and record and mix music. They also studied music licensing, budgeting, digital downloads, ways to monetize music and best business practices.

The program ended with a community showcase and a product pitch competition. A follow-up alumni program enables students to further hone their skills and projects.

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