South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium

South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium

Three Decades of Higher Education Excellence Through Collaboration


  • Southworks MakerLab Event- Meet the Entrepreneur




    Dane Christianson, Creator of X-Cube


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    Dane Christianson is an inventor at heart. While a student at IIT, he designed and built a three-dimensional brain game he calls the X-Cube in IIT’s MakerLab, the Idea Shop™ , using a 3D printer. “The Idea Shop is just fantastic,” says Christianson. “When I found out that there is a work space at IIT devoted to creation, I was blown away.”

    A video of Dane solving the puzzle received more than 1.6 million views in its first month on YouTube.Watch Christianson discuss his X-Cube on the Steve Harvey Show.

    Dane will share the lessons he’s learned building a business, Moving Parts (, to distribute the product internationally and to develop new brain games. In this presentation and Q&A, Dane will share his entrepreneurial journey with us- from developing ideas to building prototypes to finding funding, suppliers and customers.


    DATE: Tuesday, August 16, 2016

    TIME: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm; Networking afterward

    LOCATION: Prairie State College Conference Center, Room 1318

                          202 South Halsted Street

                 Chicago Heights, IL 60411



    register now


    Maker Entrepreneurship is an ongoing series of presentations and workshops dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurs building businesses around physical products.

    Upcoming events include:

    • Using Design Thinking to create a product the market wants
    • Prototyping
    • Intellectual Property
    • Lean Startup for Product-based businesses
    • Navigating the manufacturing/making supply chain
    • Funding Your Business
    • Making as a Business Model



  • Rep. Robin Kelly Visits SouthWorks MakerLab

    On July 22nd, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (2nd District, IL) visited SouthWorks MakerLab Park Forest as part of her tour to highlight successful companies making products in Illinois and to promote resources for those companies.

    “An increasing number of traditional manufacturing jobs in the 2nd District are being replaced by jobs in advanced manufacturing,” Rep. Kelly said. “My tour proves that fine products are being made here, and I’ll continue to encourage increased investment in local manufacturing. The key to long-term economic growth in our region is having a highly-skilled workforce, so we need to encourage more young people — and minorities — to pursue technology or manufacturing careers and find the most effective ways to train them.”

    Her visit to SouthWorks provided an opportunity to see firsthand the opportunities that SouthWorks MakerLabs provide.

    A Summer Camp from Marian Catholic High School was taking place- the campers making their own Pokemons with 3D printers and laser cutters. Rep. Kelly saw the handiwork of Park Forest Teen Zone campers, who the prior week built and programmed their own robots. Such activities build interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and manufacturing jobs at an early age, and they provide an effective method to learn important skills while having hands-on fun.

    The Congresswomen also met with representatives of workforce development organizations in the area to learn how the MakerLab provides an opportunity to provide advanced manufacturing skills as well as problem-solving and creativity skills to our region’s workers. Exposure to the MakerLab provides a broader view of the whole manufacturing process and provides hands-on experience with new tools that are becoming more common in manufacturing. Mollie Dowling, Executive Director of OAI, Inc. and Craig Schmidt, Vice President of Community and Economic Development at Prairie State College, noted that such skills are required in order to compete in the new manufacturing industry.

    Rep. Kelly spoke with a local entrepreneur who has been working with SouthWorks to develop her product and create a business. The entrepreneur attended the SouthWorks Maker Entrepreneurship program and has been using the equipment in the MakerLab and the expertise of several instructors to build a prototype, source materials, and develop a supply chain in order to create product. The SouthWorks MakerLab Network includes Prairie State College, which has provided manufacturing assistance as she builds her final prototypes. Through the MakerLab and the IL SBDC at GSU, she is also receiving business support.


    View an article on Rep. Kelly's website.



    SouthWorks MakerLab Park Forest is a member of the SouthWorks MakerLab Network- a network of Southland higher education, workforce development, economic development, and community organizations building a network of MakerLabs across the region to foster innovation and entrepreneurship and support for our manufacturing cluster. MakerLabs in the network that are open to the public are Joliet Junior College, Park Forest, Prairie State College, and South Suburban College.



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  • SMHEC Has Moved to Prairie State College

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    We are pleased to announce that as of July 18, 2016, South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium has moved to Prairie State College.

    We thank Governors State University for the years they hosted us, and we look forward to the great opportunity at Prairie State College.

    New Location

    South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium
    202 South Halsted Street
    ATOC 144
    Chicago Heights, IL 60411

    Map and Directions

    Campus Map

    New Contact Information

    Genny Boesen
    Executive Director
    South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium
    202 South Halsted Street
    Chicago Heights, IL 60411
    Bus: (708) 709-2942

    Don Brozek
    Program Administrator
    South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium
    202 South Halsted Street
    Chicago Heights, IL 60411
    Bus: (708) 709-7893