Maryland Today | UMD Dedicates IDEA Factory


Fernandez speaks at IDEA Factory dedication ceremony

The IDEA Factory’s movable walls and shared spaces will promote dialogue between students, entrepreneurs and faculty who are working in fields such as multimedia, robotics, rotorcraft and quantum engineering. Particularly striking is a façade dominated by an enormous window made from laminated glass treated with a film that creates radiant color shifts, based on where viewers are standing.

“Engineering brings together great minds—people with different backgrounds and perspectives, looking at 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 comes to Maryland Engineering. We are incredibly appreciative of our supporters 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 alum, entrepreneur and inventor who holds dozens of patents, including one that defined e-reading devices and is the most-cited U.S. patent ever issued. Many of these patents were co-invented with his friend, business partner and fellow Terp Angel Bezos ’69. Their inventions and their company, Pulse Electronics, transformed railroad operations. The building’s cornerstone gift came from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation’s Building Together: An Investment for Maryland in 2017.

Fernandez said he hopes the IDEA Factory will accelerate the inclusive collaboration that our society needs in order to solve its grand challenges. “Today’s problems are complex, and they 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 Computer Science and Engineering (2019), a hub for technology, collaboration and discovery; A. James Clark Hall (2017), designed to foster 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 like the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA Goddard and the National Institutes of Health.



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Divyansh Singh

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