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York College of PA engineering student, York resident win J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship McNees Accelerator Program

May 16, 2024
Exterior of JD Brown Center for Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs Jakyra Simpson (York, Pa.) of STEAM Sneakerheadz and York College senior Electrical and Mechanical Engineering major Alex Suarez (Frederick, Md.) of Kwadz were the winners of this year’s McNees Accelerator Program at York College’s J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. Both received a portion of the $5,000 prize to aid them in their entrepreneurial adventures.

“York College is proud to support these innovative leaders as they push the boundaries of innovation and education, shaping the future of their industries and inspiring new generations of entrepreneurs,” said Oscar Winters, Executive Director of the J.D. Brown Center. 

The McNees Accelerator Program, generously sponsored by McNees, Wallace, and Nurick LLC, is designed to provide budding entrepreneurs, York College students, and community entrepreneurs with the essential experience, guidance, and supplemental funding needed to launch and nurture a successful business. With rigorous education and mentorship, participants can develop a robust business framework and entrepreneurial mindset.

Suarez, founder of Kwadz and a nationally ranked drone pilot, is focused on revolutionizing the drone industry with new, user-friendly technologies for modifying and repairing drones. His initiative is set to simplify technological processes and enhance the accessibility of drone technology.

Simpson integrates science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) with sneaker culture to inspire and mobilize the next generation of creative innovators. Her approach uses fashion as a medium to foster creativity and self-expression among youth. "Participating in the McNees Accelerator program was a game changer," Simpson remarked. "The knowledge and resources I received have allowed me to lay a solid foundation for my business."

As part of the victory, Simpson and STEAM Sneakerheadz have acquired office space within the J.D. Brown Center incubator to develop her business further and engage with a vibrant network of fellow entrepreneurs. "This is just the beginning for STEAM Sneakerheadz," said Simpson. "Having an office space surrounded by other entrepreneurs and access to resources from York College will undoubtedly help my business thrive.”

Dr. Gerry Patnode, Professor Emeritus at York College and moderator of the McNees Accelerator, expressed his enthusiasm about the program’s impact. "Each year, the ideas and business concepts that come through our program grow more fascinating and diverse," he stated. "This year is no exception, with groundbreaking approaches in high-tech innovation and educational processes."