UMBC Watch

“We are extremely proud of the ‘Purple Cow’ awards. Entrepreneurial thinking has a special place at UMBC, whether we are launching students on successful careers or new businesses to build the region’s economy.”

— President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III


UMBC Stands Out In “Purple Cow” Competition


November 4, 2003 – UMBC and companies with UMBC connections had a distinct presence at the Greater Baltimore Technology Council’s annual TechNite awards ceremony in October. Four of the twelve nominees for “Purple Cow” awards – named for the best seller by entrepreneur Seth Godin and given to innovators whose new approaches stand out from the competition – had links to UMBC, and two of them took home “Purple Cow” awards.

Computer Mania Day was one of five “Purple Cow” award winners. This event hosted by UMBC’s Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT) brought hundreds of middle school girls to UMBC for a day of technology-related activities designed to address the under-enrollment of girls in IT courses. Computer Mania Day started as the brainchild of Shirley Collier, CEO of Paragon Smart Technologies, and a member of the CWIT advisory board. Through innovative programming, a corps of enthusiastic volunteers, and outstanding corporate support, Computer Mania Day was a great success – and a lot of fun. Computer Mania Day returns on May 8, 2004, and CWIT ( is seeking sponsors and volunteers.

CWIT advisory board member Deb Tillett, president of BreakAway, Ltd., also took home a “Purple Cow.” BreakAway turned its expertise in developing sophisticated video games toward new markets, creating advanced training models, simulations, and 3-D visualization tools for military applications.

Direct Dimensions, a “Purple Cow” award nominee, got its start at UMBC’s business incubator, techcenter@UMBC. The company uses lasers to create 3-D engineering-grade drawings and models of complex structures – from satellite components to prosthetic devices – for rapid prototyping and development.

Another nominated company, 180s, whose trademark wraparound earmuffs and sunglasses can be found in sporting goods stores nationwide and in catalogs like L.L. Bean, has a UMBC connection as well. Chief Financial Officer Gib Mason earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from UMBC in 1995.


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