Diving Deeper into Innovation at the 3M Site Visit

One of the important components of the QUEST experience is the opportunity to learn in unconventional ways. QUEST students were fortunate enough to get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit 3M’s Innovation Center in Washington, D.C. on October 19, 2018. This visit was organized by the QUEST Corporate student organization with help from Dr. Christina Elson and QUEST Program Manager Jessica Roffe. 3M is a multi-national corporation operating in the fields of industry, health care, and consumer goods. It has operations in more than 70 countries and has been in business for 116 years.

The visit was action-packed. The group first heard from Rory Yanchek, VP and GM of 3M Government Marketing – Sales, and Holly Chapman, DC Innovation Center Host, who taught them about 3M’s history and current impact by using science to change the world. Holly and Michelle Woodard, the DC Innovation Center Manager, then gave the group tours of the innovation center where they learned about the amazing innovations by 3M in many product lines. The information gave the students many ideas about how the skills they develop in QUEST can aid them in the future. Senior Michael Vetter (Q28), who helped organize the visit, said, “The talks were great as we explored how we can really utilize our knowledge from QUEST and apply it to the real world.”

The most popular part of the visit was a virtual reality simulation where the students got to test the difference between road signs that used 3M technology compared to those that did not. Michael’s personal favorite was learning about the different technologies that utilize optics to change how we perceive light and recognize objects to make a difference in our lives. Innovations like these are what the center has been built to showcase and help express the work that 3M has done over the years.

3M certainly made an impression on those visiting. Michael mentions that what he took away from the visit is that he would definitely be interested in working at 3M in the distant future because the company is so unique in its application of materials science and its flexibility between so many industries. He thinks, “The people truly care about the world and society, while developing products that reflect that.” A ringing endorsement like that speaks volumes about how impressive the Innovation Center must’ve been.

By all accounts, this site visit was a fascinating experience and created memories to cherish for everyone involved. It was an ideal mix of learning with fun and helped interested students learn some details on how a company like 3M pushes the boundaries of innovation further.

If you’re interested in inviting QUEST students to visit your company, please contact QUEST Program Manager Jessica Roffe at jroffe@umd.edu.


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