The $51,000 prize that Rob Martin ’12, M.S. ’13, won last fall helped get his 3-D printing business off the ground.

But Martin’s business might not exist at all if he had never met his faculty mentor (and now business partner) David Kennell, M.S. ’00, from Illinois State University’s Department of Technology.

Together, Martin and Kennell are owners of Open Source Classroom LLC, which offers professional development to educators who want to bring 3-D printers and other open-source technology into their classrooms. Martin made the winning pitch at Illinois State’s Startup Showcase last November, hosted by the George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“(David) is very willing to go out of his way to help share his knowledge,” Martin said. “It’s really his generous nature that inspired me to take this business idea and really grow with it.”

Ryan Denham can be reached at