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Economic Development Corporation Unleashes County Academia Brainpower On Local Agencies

 

Jim Coleman, EDC President and CEO addresses ‘Unrestricted Thinking’ Forum ParticipantsLargo, MD – Last week, the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation, hosted its first ‘Unrestricted Thinking’ Forum in partnership with the Computer Science Departments from the University of Maryland College Park, Capitol Technology University, Bowie State University and the Prince George’s Community College.  The purpose of this endeavor was to connect State and Federal agencies with academic solution providers, encouraging them to think outside the box to introduce ways to generate new results, with less money, at a faster pace using the innovative minds of students. 

“Every year, our federal agencies are being asked to produce more results, in a shorter period of time with reduced budgets,” said Coleman.  “This ‘Unrestricted Thinking’ Forum unleashes the brainpower in the County’s academic institutions help federal and State agencies lower their operating costs, be more productive and to achieve their goals by using IT solutions. We want our students to graduate from the University of Maryland, or Bowie State University or Capital Technology University and not move to Silicon Valley because they are able to use their creativity, innovation and unrestricted thought processes to attack problems and solve them with the speed of light. I see patent solutions and startup companies coming out of this forum; and the EDC will be ready, willing and able to help them get office space, staffing and any financing they may need to grow their company.  We’re in the business of finding the next Facebook or the next Google right here in Prince George’s County.”

The concept behind the ‘Unrestricted Thinking’ Forum came out of a collaboration with Dr. Ashok K. Agrawala, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland in an effort to spur entrepreneurship, commercialization of innovation and to challenge the local college students to think outside the box to solve technology problems.  Along with the University of Maryland College Park Computer Science Department, information technology administrators from Capitol Technology University, Bowie State University, Prince George’s Community College and the Capital Artificial Intelligence Center also participated in the forum. 

“This was a fantastic event and extremely well done,” said Agrawala.  “I am thankful to Jim Coleman and the entire Economic Development Corporation team for having done such a fantastic job. We have had an opportunity presented to us to be able to collaborate with federal and local agencies and showcase the talent in our respective institutions. Our next steps will include incorporating our students with the issues we have heard about today and the other issues that will come up in the future.  This is a great day, indeed.”

Technical officers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the NASA Goddard Flight Center, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Prince George’s County Office of Information Technology discussed the importance of getting students involved with their respective challenges and how it can help the agencies get problems solved faster.  Each agency also expressed their concern for motivating the students to go above and beyond the norm, and take their research to the next level.  Prince George’s County Chief Information Office Spencer Thomas described the synergy with the academic world as not only providing quicker, innovative solutions to agency challenges, it is also an opportunity to grow jobs for tomorrow.

“Today was a great event.  I like the fact that the EDC and the University of Maryland had the vision and insight to know that everyone doesn’t have the information or solutions to their problems,” said Thomas. “There is value to upfront evaluation and planning. Today has allowed me to be more strategic in my thinking in my position as CIO.  In my position, I serve baby-boomers and millennials and must cater to both markets in order for our system to be successful into the future. This forum will allow me to be more critical and strategic in my thinking.”

For more information about information technology collaboration with local academic institutions, contact EDC Business Development Director, Mayank Kapur (mkapur@co.pg.md.us) at 301-583-4650.