Lehigh University, using some of a $20 million donation from a Scott Belair, a former graduate and co-founder of Urban Outfitters, acquired the Bethlehem Steel Homer Research Labs buildings and plans to transform these surrounding into an “invention incubator”.
The buildings were once used by the steel company to test the viability of their product; scientists, engineers, and machinists researched and refined techniques there to improve the steel making process, also. The labs once housed office space and facilities with 20 ton cranes and 40 feet high ceilings. The huge interior is being stripped down and Lehigh will have the students spend an entire semester at the location and focus on bringing their ideas to life.
There are ongoing projects that will attempt to write music based on hand motions; redefining the 3-D printer, building a car light enough to race with an electric engine, and making water drinkable after it has fed crops. The initial pilot project for the program at the place dubbed the Mountaintop Campus: redesigning the facilities for maximum production activity. This may include soundproofing or designing work space with no walls for more collaboration.
Lehigh University realizes that while many of the ideas might fail, some will succeed and become marketable inventions that could potentially change the world.