Photonics Education Innovation with a STEM Education Twist shows Pongratz Engineering’s Design Prowess

by Yvonne Ng

Laser Blox

Minneapolis, MN  USA – Pongratz Engineering’s first joint entrepreneurial venture began on a fascinating note of female-driven product development.  Yvonne Ng and Colette DeHarpporte struck up a friendship at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.  Ng, an ivy league-educated mechanical engineer and dedicated STEM Education proponent, encouraged her longtime friend Colette DeHarpporte to act on her desire to create a revolutionary photonics education product and referred her to Pongratz Engineering.

DeHarpporte, recently having purchased her father’s laser pointer business, yearned to transform her father’s old company into a dedicated education technology company with a strong commitment to the growing STEM Education movement.  Troy Pongratz, owner of Pongratz Engineering, co-designed LASER Blox with input from Colette DeHarpporte for Laser Classroom.

Anna Heithoff, an engineer working for Pongratz Engineering, took the lead on the project and breathed life into DeHarpporte’s vision.   Heithoff explains the engineering challenges she faced in creating LASER Blox for DeHarpporte.  “We took a traditional laser pointer and redesigned it from head-to-toe: 1) we created a semi-rectangular housing that resisted a traditional cylinder’s habit of rolling off a desktop 2) we made the device magnetically stackable, allowing for a variety of different laser colors and wavelengths to be used simultaneously 3) we added a line generating lens that made the laser beam easily visible for angle measurement and experimentation purposes in a classroom 4) we made the LASER Blox product feel substantial in weight to give the product a true feeling of quality.”

LASER Blox was specifically designed for high school physics teachers and college physics professors at an attractive price point.  This product is not only revolutionary in scope, but represents a significant technological contribution to STEM Education advocates and the cause of inspiring students to pursue science education as a worthy career option.  As further evidence of the device’s popular reception, a total of 63 LASER Blox units are currently used in science and art classes at The Science Museum of Minnesota, a prominent science education facility known throughout the upper Midwest.

For more information about LASER Blox and Laser Classroom, please contact Colette DeHarpporte at:

Telephone: 612-789-5010  Email:  Website:

For more information about Pongratz Engineering services, please contact Troy Pongratz at:  Telephone: 612-384-0122  Email:  Website: