Maryland Today | UMD dedicates IDEA Factory

IDEA Factory’s moving walls and shared spaces will promote dialogue between students, entrepreneurs, and professors working in fields such as multimedia, robotics, helicopters, and quantum engineering. Particularly striking is a facade dominated by a huge window made of laminated glass treated with a film that creates radiant color changes, depending on where the viewers are.

“Engineering brings together great minds, people with different backgrounds and perspectives, who see the same challenge in different ways, to collaborate on solutions that serve humanity. The IDEA Factory will catalyze those collaborations,” said Clark School Dean Samuel Graham, Jr. “When the world looks for solutions, it’s Maryland Engineering. We are incredibly grateful to our fans for giving our students, faculty, and staff a new place to do cutting-edge work.”

The building is named for Emilio Fernandez ’69, a Maryland engineering student, businessman, and inventor who holds dozens of patents, including one that defines electronic reading devices and is the most cited US patent ever issued. Many of these patents were co-invented with his friend, business partner, and fellow Terp Angel Bezos ’69. His inventions and his company, Pulse Electronics, transformed rail operations. The building’s cornerstone gift came from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation’s Building Together: An Investment for Maryland in 2017.

Fernández said that he hopes that the IDEA Factory will accelerate the inclusive collaboration that our society needs to solve its great challenges. “Today’s problems are complex and require interdisciplinary solutions,” he said. “We have to combine our specialties so that our knowledge evolves into products and services that help humanity.”

The new IDEA Factory is the latest infrastructure addition to UMD’s vibrant innovation ecosystem. It includes UMD’s Discovery District, as well as the Brendan Iribe Center for Engineering and Computer Science (2019), a center for technology, collaboration, and discovery; A. James Clark Hall (2017), designed to foster the development of transformative engineering and biomedical technologies to advance human health; and the Physical Sciences Complex (2013), created to provide ideal conditions for scientific collaboration, research, and innovation with partners across campus and at local federal agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA Goddard, and the National Institutes of Health.

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