Our Story


starting with a big idea

In 2015, Ankita Joshi, Michelle Nie, and Aubrey Larson met at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business when they all took a Social Entrepreneurship class together.

We united through a passion for changing the education landscape and expanding STEM education access for all. Soon, we launched a project then known as Māk.


We entered the Big Ideas @ Berkeley competition to earn seed funding for their project. Our idea won a First Place Award in the Financial Inclusion category.

Read the full proposal below:

launching into action

Empowered by our seed funding and UC Berkeley’s support, we started a pilot STEAM program with Oakland High School’s Fashion, Arts, and Design Academy. We taught 11th and 12th graders a comprehensive curriculum based on design fundamentals and 3D design using Autodesk Fusion 360.

At the end of the year-long program, students 3D printed their own designs as part of their final project.


expanding to a larger audience

In 2017, we launched a makerspace and 3D design training program at Oakland Public Library’s Main Branch. We set up 3D printers and held demos every week to teens from across Oakland.


Meanwhile, we started working on an open-source 3D design curriculum. Stay tuned for updates on our curriculum!

Our future

After completing two programs in Oakland, we decided we needed to take a step back and perform more research to better address the needs of students and teachers.

Today, we are focusing on research and conducting empathy studies with teachers, schools, and policymakers. If you fit into one of these categories, we would love to talk to you to learn how we can help support STEM education across the country. Please contact us here or send us an email at info@acornlabs.org!