Peichen Chang arrived at Hacker Lab with a dream.
Chang, an engineer, came to the innovation center in Rocklin to explore an idea after losing his job. He used the electronics lab’s thousands of dollars of equipment, 3D printers, CNC machines and Hacker Lab’s community to prototype a device and seek funding.
The cofounder and CEO of tCheck now has 30 employees and two devices.
Peichen is an example [Read: "They came for the high-end tools. They ended up building a workforce"] of Hacker Lab’s value to Rocklin, Cofounder and COO Eric Ullrich told city council members at the June 25 Rocklin City Council meeting. The City of Rocklin affirmed its support for Hacker Lab for three more years, with new offerings for Rocklin residents to enroll in entrepreneurship program Startup Hustle free, youth programming as well as the City’s expanded use of Hacker Lab.
“One person created 30 jobs,” Ullrich said. “Entrepreneurship is about creating new value in the world, coming up with some idea or problem and creating something that never existed. Beyond economic value, it also instills a sense of personal confidence and resilience amongst ourselves.
“Peichen, after losing a job, knows that his livelihood isn’t dependent on some corporation; he can come to Hacker Lab and continue to create jobs for himself and the future.”
Joe Patterson, Mayor of Rocklin, tweeted shortly after:
“The @CityofRocklin just approved a 3 year MOU with @SacHackerLab (with a location in Rocklin) to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in town. We’re excited about the partnership and the jobs already created by their amazing maker space,” Patterson wrote.
The new agreement is the first formal agreement between the city and makerspace. Included in the agreement are free entrepreneurship trainings for Rocklin residents with Hacker Lab’s 10-week Startup Hustle bootcamp; free mentorship via Hacker Lab's new mentorship program with support from the Capital Region Small Business Development Center; City-staff use of the space; and strategies to promote entrepreneurship and workforce development in Rocklin and the region beyond.
Hacker Lab first opened in Rocklin in 2015 after being lured by Sierra College to create the first-of-its-kind public-private partnership makerspace, “to instill entrepreneurial resources amongst the students of sierra college and to bridge the gap between the campus and community,” Ullrich told the council.
The innovation center has provided workspace, tools, equipment, mentorship, classes and community events over the past four years. With about 300 workshops per year and about 30 per month, residents can learn to build nearly anything at Hacker Lab.
Youth educational offerings via MakersXD provide access to STEM summer camps and after school programs, teaching students to make 3D models, video games, chairs and coded programs, and to become resilient in a changing job market.
“It’s our mission to instill this kind of feeling amongst our community members,” Ullrich said. “Entrepreneurship can be dangerous for families; we want to minimize these risks as much as possible; to provide people these skills and facilities so they can get up and running.”
Council members asked about supporting youth programming and spreading the word about Hacker Lab. Girl Scouts, Sierra College students, area manufacturing machinists and entrepreneurs like Chang make up the community in Rocklin.
“This year, Hacker Lab has made a strong effort to build its relationship with Rocklin as a governmental organization as well as its citizens and community,” said Rocklin City Manager Steven Rudolph.