Archive for ‘News’ Category


NIU EIGERlab April 2015 Newsletter | Tracie Burress, sockTABs semifinalist!

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

IMGP0131sockTABs wins again!

Tracie Burress, owner of sockTABs and winner of EIGERlab’s 2014 FastPitch Competition, has completed yet another impressive challenge. She is the only woman chosen in the state of Illinois as the semifinalist in Chicago’s Women’s Business Development Center InnovateHER CHALLENGE! For the next stage of the InnovateHER CHALLENGE, Tracie is one of only 10 women throughout the United States who will compete for over $30,000 in cash prizes in Washington, D.C.

To prepare for the submittal, she worked with both Sherry Pritz at EIGERlab and Brian McIntyre with the Small Business Development Center. We at NIU-EIGERlab wish Tracie much success in the Competition!

Visit sockTABs’ website

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NIU STEM Café expands to Rockford to present “The 3D Printing Revolution”

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Fredrico_Sciammarella_NIUSTEMCafe_3DPrintingMaybe you’ve seen one at your child’s school, in a downtown museum, or even at the local big box home store. 3-D printers are popping up everywhere, getting cheaper, and are easier to use than ever before. Advances in 3D printing are actually allowing researchers and average folks to print everything from car parts to body parts. At the next STEM Café, visitors can find out how 3D printing actually works and how it is changing lives.

Click here for the complete press release.

Click here for the marketing flyer.

NIU aims to expand entrepreneurship with Rockford EIGERlab acquisition

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

ROCKFORD — Northern Illinois University has acquired the Rockford-based business incubatorEIGERlab as it aims to expand its offerings to budding entrepreneurs and foster economic growth in the region.

EIGERlab, 605 Fulton Ave., helps startups and existing businesses develop products, commercialize ideas and learn new skills. It also offers design engineering and rapid prototyping services. NIU’s acquisition, completed near the start of the year, will allow greater links to university resources and expertise, as well as connect EIGERlab client companies to complementary services, said Rena Cotsones, associate vice president of engagement and innovation partnerships for NIU. The university will rebrand the lab as the NIU EIGERlab Innovation Network.

“With this new affiliation with NIU, I really believe that it will be able to evolve to the next level to really connect to the Illinois innovation ecosystem in a new and exciting way that is going to help the region immensely,” Cotsones said.

NIU acquired EIGERlab through a grant from the nonprofit Northern Illinois Research Foundation.

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Shark Tank Rockford Style: 2015 FastPitch Competition Announced

Friday, March 13th, 2015

20141029_103343It’s hard to believe that this year’s event will be the 9th annual FastPitch Competition! It will be held on Wednesday, June 17 at NIU-Rockford and is open to the public at 5:00 PM. Over the past eight years, we’ve had an average of 48 people compete annually; totaling nearly 400 presenters. Following are comments from our 2014 FastPitch Competition winners.
Tracie Burress, our first place winner, said, “Competing in the EIGERlab’s FastPitch Competition has been truly invaluable to every aspect of my SockTABs business. When I first entered the EIGERlab, I only had an idea or concept in mind. After working closely with the engineers to perfect a prototype, we successfully competed in the FastPitch Competition against 34 would-be entrepreneurs. My husband and I took home top prize and won $5K that we used to launch our business. The amount of exposure that our business received because of this victory is immeasurable. Not a week goes by without someone mentioning the media coverage we received from our FastPitch Competition victory.

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EIGERlab’s January 2015 Newsletter | NIU Student Design Team Collaborates with EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

20150129_NIU_Student_Design_TeamNIU’s mechanism design and analysis student team was assigned a challenging project-create a six-legged walking robot complete with a Hoeckens Linkage to compete with fellow student teams. Post design, they enlisted EIGERlab to print their creation utilizing additive manufacturing or 3D printing. Haley Cummings, a junior mechanical engineering major on the team, said, “The students were given design constraints by the professor, which included adding a Hoeckens linkage. Translation, it had to have six legs, walk, and have three feet on the ground at all times. This mechanism makes the legs of the robot walk along a path guided by the front leg.”

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EIGERlab’s December 2014 Newsletter | TechWorks’ impactful workforce results

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

TWWebsite_4559Congratulations to Gordy Blaisdell and his colleagues!

2014 has been an impactful year for TechWorks including entry-level Computerized Numeric Control (CNC) machine operator training, in addition to Assembly and custom training. The number of students who graduated from the six and seven week courses was impressive-92 CNC machine operators and 13 Assemblers. The spike in custom training reflects the value found by regional companies to expand their engineers’ knowledge beyond the engineering phase, as well as the creation of the part, and the process and machinery utilized to create it.

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EIGERlab assists NIU’s mechanism design and analysis class students

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Students in a mechanism design and analysis class are creating a six-legged walking mechanism machine using 3-D printing.

John Seper, senior mechanical engineering major, said teams of students spent at least two months completing their machine’s design. Seper’s team then contacted EIGERlab, which will complete the 3-D printed mechanism Friday or Monday.

The assignment is due the Tuesday after Thanksgiving break and the six groups of four to five students will compete for grades on their robots.

Click here for the complete article.

Click here to view the six-legged walking mechanism machine

Rockford business fair tackles sluggish growth among minority-owned companies

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

ROCKFORD — Nearly 200 local business leaders gathered Thursday at Klehm Arboretum to share new approaches to bolstering the region’s lagging growth among small and minority-owned companies.

Going beyond the typical lectures or workshops, the Illinois Comptroller’s Office organized a series of casual networking lunches across the state to promote business resources available to minority groups, women and veterans.

Einar Forsman of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce — which organized the Klehm meetup with the Rockford 521 Initiative and the Salsa Business Network — said the enthusiastic crowd showed the ongoing need to reach all corners of the local business community.

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Rockford Spectrum students test waters in ‘Shark Tank’ competition

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

ROCKFORD — A parkour gym, a 50-meter pool, a murder mystery museum, a zombie survival park and an international market.

The list reads like notes from a tourism brainstorming session, but the ideas actually were hatched by a group of sixth-graders at Spectrum Progressive School as part of their “Bring it to Rockford” competition.

The students modeled their competition after the popular television show “Shark Tank,” during which entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to a panel of celebrity investors.

One by one, the school’s sixth-graders entered and exited “the shark tank” — a small table set up in front of the judges. They’d give their pitch, answer a few questions and sit down.

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EIGERlab’s November 2014 Newsletter | sockTABs Product Launch | 3D Solution Printed for First Grader

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014


sockTABs Product Launch was a Huge Success!

sockTABs are currently available for purchase at b jones Boutique, Crimson Ridge, Porch, Tom Harmer and

The Burress family, creator of the original sockTABs ™, announced the formal release of their ingenious pairing device at a press conference at EIGERlab on Wednesday, October 29.

American-made sockTABs provide a simple solution to an everyday household problem: the infamous “sock monster!”

Tracie is proud to share that she’s completed the second round of ABC’s Shark Tank. To impress the Shark Tank judges-knock their socks off, so to speak-she is now counting on buyers in the Rockford Region to support this product with great sales volume. She’d love to bring positive, national exposure to Rockford while obtaining capital to grow.

sockTABs are currently available for purchase at b jones Boutique, Crimson Ridge, Porch, Tom Harmer and; retail price, just $9.99 for 24 tabs. Currently, negotiations are underway with major retailers in the region-expect to announce partnership in the near future. The tabs not only pair socks but also serve as a stylish fashion accessory, like cufflinks for socks.

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