• Meghan Harvey

Catalyst Space Pledges to Help Community Health Workers


In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, protective gear like face masks are in high demand. Unfortunately, they are also in short supply.


Across the world individuals are coming together and contributing to the design of much-needed medical supplies, but you don’t have to look far to see some of these inspiring efforts. Our very own community members are stepping up and joining together to make a big impact.



The makers at Catalyst Space, a creative studio in downtown Altoona, are using their technology to help medical professionals in the area by 3D printing face masks and shields.


“I saw all of this collaboration happening within the maker community, and I thought it would be great to be a part of that,” says Justin Merrell, founder and director of Catalyst Space. “We jumped in, found the face mask design files, and started to produce them here.”


3D printers are allowing individuals to help make up for the supply chain’s shortage of protective gear, not only by producing simple things like face masks, but also easy-to-make ventilators. Justin says Catalyst Space could also contribute to making these ventilators for local facilities, if need be.



Originally from Maryland, Justin came to Altoona for Penn State’s engineering program. After noticing a lack of STEM opportunities in the area, he decided to create his own.


Justin founded Catalyst Space five years ago with the goal of “inspiring the next generation.” The open-access workshop is an environment where members of the community can come together and have access to tools and resources to create projects or products.



“It’s like a gym membership,” says Justin, “but instead of having access to exercise equipment, you have access to things like 3D printing, woodworking equipment, laser cutting, and electronic equipment.” A membership also provides access to a separate coworking space for those who work remotely. Outside of membership opportunities, Catalyst Space is involved with various community outreach programs, such as hands-on craft classes and STEM programs for kids.


Catalyst Space has started an active fundraiser campaign with the goal of raising at least $5,000, which would cover production and material costs for 1,500 face shields.


Join Catalyst Space in supporting the health and well-being of our community!


Visit catalystspace.org for more information. Follow them on Facebook and on Instagram @catalyst_space!


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