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Building Toward Invention

Construction to Start on IDEA Factory This Winter

By Maryland Today Staff

Rendering of IDEA Factory building as seen from Stadium Drive

Architectural renderings courtesy of A. James Clark School of Engineering

New architectural renderings show the E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory from Stadium Drive and Kim Plaza (bottom). Construction is expected to start this winter.

A pair of major gifts will help bring to life the E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory, a unique campus space where UMD students, faculty and staff will translate fundamental research into inventions to take on the challenges of the 21st century.

After a Fall 2018 groundbreaking and an ensuing period of fundraising, construction on the dramatic 60,000-square-foot facility next to the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building is expected to begin in early 2020.

Lockheed Martin gave $2.5 million to equip the Alfred A. Gessow Rotorcraft Center, which will occupy the fourth and fifth floors of the building, continuing its nearly four-decade mission of carrying out interdisciplinary research on the aeromechanics of rotorcraft systems.IDEA Factory as seen from Stadium drive

In addition, a $2 million gift over four years from TD Ventures Foundation will help construct and equip the new Quantum Technology Center, which aims to translate quantum physics research into new technologies by collaboration with researchers in materials science, engineering, computer science, chemistry and biology. The center will be located below grade level in order to protect delicate experiments from environmental interference.

"The E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory will be an important new asset for the A. James Clark School of Engineering, supporting its drive to create groundbreaking solutions to the challenges that face the world,” Darryll A. Pines, Clark School dean and Nariman Farvardin professor. “We are extremely grateful to the donors who are helping to make this space for innovation and invention a reality."

Elsewhere in the IDEA (Innovate, Design and Engineer for America) Factory, the Maryland Robotics Center will occupy the third floor with lab and office space dedicated to advancing robotics systems, underlying component technologies, and applications of robotics through interdisciplinary, systems-based research and educational programs.IDEA Factory as seen in rendering from Kim Plaza

The second floor will be a glass-enclosed “engineering community hub” including a café with extensive seating and two conference rooms/lounges and a large outdoor patio.

The ground floor will house the ALEx Garage, a student competition space that Clark School teams will vie to use for set periods of time, as well as the new home of the Startup Shell incubator and a rapid prototyping lab equipped with 3D printers and other in-demand gear.

The building is named for Emilio A. Fernandez ’69, an entrepreneur and inventor who helped develop e-reader technology and made key contributions to the railroad industry, and pledged the naming gift toward the building.


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