Berks student team developing EV charging stations receives national recognition

Streamline Charging has been selected for OPENminds Innovators Showcase and Invent Penn State’s Fast Track Accelerator
Three people view technological prototype

Kathleen Hauser, Assistant Teaching Professor of Engineering; John Gatto, Principal and CEO of JGO Services LLC; and Jonathan Smith, Streamline Charging LLC founding member with Streamline Charging LLC's half-scale prototype.

Credit: Courtesy of Sadan Kulturel-Konak

WYOMISSING, Pa. — Penn State Berks student startup team Streamline Charging LLC has received national and University-wide recognition for its flexible and affordable electric vehicle (EV) charging solution that transforms the charging experience for apartment dwellers and service station customers. The team was recently selected to participate in two programs: VentureWell’s OPENminds Innovators Showcase and Happy Valley LaunchBox’s spring 2023 Fast Track Accelerator, a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative. 

According to the team, they are revolutionizing EV charging with technology that can service up to 10 parking spaces per station, reducing installation costs by up to 60% and making EVs more accessible to existing gas stations. 

National recognition through OPENminds Innovators Showcase

The OPENminds Innovators Showcase is an opportunity for VentureWell Accelerator E-Team Program alumni to highlight their groundbreaking technology innovations. The event is held in conjunction with OPEN, VentureWell’s annual conference, March 18-20, in San Diego, California. 

The team was selected based on a 90-second pitch video that highlighted their technical value proposition, market potential and progress toward revenue.

Berks Streamline Charging Pitch Video
Credit: Jonathan Smith

Last year, Streamline Charging was among 22 national teams selected for the VentureWell Accelerator E-Team Program, which supports student ventures. Streamline Charging was awarded $5,000 in funding and an opportunity to participate in the Pioneer Workshop, designed to help the teams discover the best market for their invention and to kickstart their project.  

The Pioneer Workshop was held at the Engine, a co-working space in Boston built by Massachusetts Institute of Technology that helps to grow and nurture the “Tough Tech Ecosystem” — made up of founders, startups, academics, strategic corporate partners, policymakers and capital providers. There, Streamline Charging worked on developing and refining its customizable, cost-efficient technology for EV charging.

University-wide recognition through Invent Penn State Fast-Track Accelerator

Most recently, Streamline Technology was one of nine early-stage business startups accepted into Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank spring 2024 FastTrack Accelerator program. 

FastTrack runs from mid January through March and consists of nine weekly group meetings, plus one-on-one mentoring from advisers and experts in business, legal and intellectual property. Teams also gain access to a suite of free tools and coworking space at Happy Valley LaunchBox, which is located on the second floor of the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub.

Beginning at Berks

Streamline Charging began with a group of Penn State Berks students who completed the college’s Cornerstone Engineering Design course (EDSGN 100) and later formed a team through a mechanical engineering independent study (ME 297). The goal of the independent study course is to provide first-year engineering students with a unique opportunity to pursue their interest within the customized course structure and to advance a project in engineering design.
The Berks students enjoyed success at various stages through the course and through the Penn State Berks Flemming Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED) Center programs, which led to their applying for and receiving the E-Team Program grant.  

The Streamline Charging team completed the CEED Center’s Customer Discovery Lab, which guides teams in verifying their business assumptions and connects budding entrepreneurs with mentors. At completion of the Customer Discovery Lab, the team received an NSF I-Corps microgrant to develop their prototype. Streamline Charging received another seed grant from the CEED Center VentureWell Project, “Cross-Pollination of STEM Courses to Sustain Entrepreneur Teams Disruptive Technology Solutions.”  

The founding members of Streamline Charging include Melanie MacKinnon, Jonathan Smith, Nathan Vreeland and Mark Yazemboski. MacKinnon, Smith and Vreeland attended the E-Team Program in the summer of 2023.

Since then, the team has expanded to include several new engineering students from both Berks and University Park campuses. In addition to the founding members, the following students began their studies at Berks: Sean Magilton, Braden Ritter and Zachary Schlegel. University Park students Rohan Chaudhary, Shayaan Gandhi and Loc Phan have also joined the team. All team members began their engineering degrees at Penn State Berks, except Chaudhary, Gandhi and Phan, who joined the group more recently.

Their engineering faculty mentor is Kathleen Hauser, assistant teaching professor of engineering, and their business faculty mentor is Sadan Kulturel-Konak, professor of management information systems and the director of the Flemming CEED Center. The team also worked with business mentors: John Gatto, principal and CEO of JGO Services LLC; Charles Snyder of East Penn Manufacturing; and Tom Wessner, formerly of Tesla.  

Jonathan Smith, Streamline Charging CEO, and Shayaan Gandhi, strategy lead, will represent the team at the VentureWell’s OPENminds Innovators Showcase.

“Streamline Charging looks forward to connecting with national leaders in the innovation and entrepreneurship industry and presenting our technology to a broader audience,” stated Smith. “Penn State Berks is an amazing hub of entrepreneurial cultural and resources. The Flemming CEED Center, Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak, and Professor Kathleen Hauser allowed us to accelerate our project through mentorship, workspace and access to grants and funding. We also never would have met many of our closest advisers and friends, including our mentors.”

Ghandi added, “We are thrilled to be representing Streamline Charging at the OPENminds Innovator Showcase. It is an incredible opportunity to share our innovative solutions and connect with fellow changemakers who are shaping the future of technology and sustainability.”

“We're immensely proud of the Streamline Charging LLC team members' commitment to exploring every chance to advance their customer discovery and prototyping efforts,” commented Kulturel-Konak. “I am excited to accompany the Streamline Charging team during the OPENminds Innovators Showcase and witness their interactions with the conference attendees."

Hauser added, “The team is currently pursuing several opportunities, and we look forward to offering them the support they need to succeed in their future endeavors.” 

Meanwhile, four members of the team will attend the Fast Track Accelerator program: Smith; Gandhi, technical lead Rohan Chaudhary; and software lead Loc Phan.

The last week of the program includes a final demo day where teams will present their startups and their progress during the program. 

About VentureWell’s OPENminds Innovators Showcase

The OPENminds Innovator Showcase features VentureWell E-Team Program early-stage student innovators who are developing inventions that will change the world. This signature event is an opportunity for E-Team Program alumni to showcase their groundbreaking technology innovations. This is an opportunity for E-Team Program innovators to showcase their inventions, engage in professional development, receive feedback from numerous innovation and entrepreneurship educators, and win cash prizes.

About Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank 

Happy Valley LaunchBox, located on the second floor of the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub in downtown State College, provides early-stage startups with support and resources they need to build a sustainable and scalable business and a viable plan for growth. No-cost programs and services can include coworking space, accelerator programs, legal and intellectual property resources, and expert mentorships from Penn State’s extensive network. LaunchBox is open to everyone — community members and those affiliated with Penn State. Happy Valley LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative and one of 21 innovation spaces located in Penn State campus communities across Pennsylvania.

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.  


Sadan Kulturel-Konak

Sadan Kulturel-Konak, professor of management information systems, Penn State Berks

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