Today, the University of Maryland (UMD) made an important move for collegiate entrepreneurship by opening the latest facility, the EA Fernandez IDEA factory buildingon its main campus in College Park.
The building, which opened in 2018 (although construction began in 2020), boasts seven floors and 61,000 square feet of labs, workspaces, and more resources for student entrepreneurs. According to UMD, it will be “drastically different” from any other building on campus and is designed specifically for students who want to make changes in fields such as multimedia, robotics, aircraft and quantum engineering.
The building is named after the pupil Emilio Fernandezco-founder and CEO of a railway engineering company Pulse electronics. Fernandez currently holds 25 patents, mostly in transportation, but one in computer technology was pivotal for e-readers such as by Amazon Light and eventually became the most cited patent in the United States. The “IDEA” part stands for “Innovate, Design and Engineer for America”.
Fernandez said in a UMD statement that he hopes the new building will inspire students to collaborate on new projects and technologies.
“Today’s problems are complex and require interdisciplinary solutions,” said Fernandez. “We need to combine our specialties so that our knowledge evolves into products and services that help humanity.”
The first floor will host Boot shell, an incubator and student-run coworking space that a former student created from a storage room in 2012. Startup Shell was created to help student businesses move off campus and expand. Will also welcome the ALEX Garagea space for student competitions and a prototype laboratory with 3D printers.
The second floor will be an “engineering community hub” with workspaces, a cafeteria and conference rooms for student entrepreneurs to host meetings. The third floor will house the Robotics and autonomy laboratory from Maryland Robotics Centerwith laboratory and office spaces to advance robotic technology.
The fourth and fifth floors will house the Alfred A. Gessow Rotorcraft Centerwhich is subsidized by a $ 2.5 million gift from Lockheed Martin. The space will be dedicated to aeromechanics and aircraft research. The building will also house the Quantum Technology Center, for students of the engineering school and physics departments, for the use of quantum physics in technology. The university and IDEA Factory affiliates hope that space can be a central point for a National Quantum Initiativeaccording to the university’s website.
UMD said the new building is the latest piece of infrastructure for the university’s “innovation ecosystem”. Joins the Discovery Districtmade for local founders, as well as new builds like the Brendan Iribe Center for Information Technology and Engineering (completed in 2019) and the A. James Clark Hall (completed in 2017) for engineering students.
“The IDEA factory is a spectacular addition to UMD’s robust and growing innovation ecosystem,” said UMD’s president. Darryll Pines in a statement. “Its world-class facilities for education, innovation, research and product development in robotics, quantum, engineering, transportation and manufacturing will be transformative. Inspired by a namesake who brought pioneering ideas to market, our community will conceive ideas, create designs, build prototypes, develop business plans, and bring to market products that will spur economic prosperity in the region, state and nation. “