A Hub for Young Innovators

A Hub for Young Innovators

Startup space for students

Johns Hopkins students now have access to a space that’s devoted to turning the seeds of their creative ideas—their inventions, startups, crafts, and robotics—into reality.

A former factory building in Remington has been transformed into FastForward U Homewood, which opened its doors to students in September 2018. The 10,000-square-foot building features a makerspace with high-tech tools for crafting, building, and engineering, along with various spaces, large and small, for events and collaboration.

The new hub is one of four operated by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, bringing Hopkins to a total of more than 40,000 square feet of innovation space on both the Homewood and East Baltimore campuses. The Whiting School of Engineering oversees the 2,200-square-foot makerspace area, which features three laser cutters, three 3-D printers, and a vinyl cutter for high-tech engineering or craft projects. There are also separate rooms for woodworking and metalsmithing, equipped with various hand tools, saws, and grinders, as well as a benchtop lathe and mill. Priority for using the makerspace is given to personal projects unrelated to coursework.

The large open area at the center of FastForward U doubles as an events space—think movie screenings, keynote speakers, and startup pitches. Students can often be found pitching to secure more than $100,000 in annual grant awards made available by the university and by generous donors to encourage student innovation. All furniture is mobile, so it can be rearranged or removed as needed. Five conference/meeting rooms feature whiteboards and setups for HDTV projections.

Photo: Students gather in one of five conference/meeting rooms equipped with whiteboards and setups for HDTV projections.