Innovation in Motion

Lockheed Martin employee, “Big Brain” winner establishes community maker-space

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As a self-proclaimed “tinkerer” with a “start-up mentality,” it’s no surprise that Corey Fleischer, a senior mechanical engineer with Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business, found his niche as a contestant on the Discovery Channel’s “Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius.” After his victory and seeing a fellow contestant’s maker-space in action, Fleischer knew what his next project should be.

“I knew Baltimore [Maryland] needed to have something like that,” Fleischer said. “Within a matter of months, Baltimore’s welding-wannabes had a place to call home.”

Fleischer, fellow contestant Andrew Stroup and entrepreneur Jason Hardebeck co-founded the Baltimore Foundery – a 2,000-square foot maker-space in the East Harbor area of the city. As a non-profit, the Foundery is open to the public and all who seek a space for creation, offering classes in welding, woodworking and other engineering techniques.

“Some people show up and ask what to do or how to get involved,” Fleischer said. “I tell them to show up with a project in mind, something they can’t do on their own or with the tools they have, and we’ll help them out.”

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The Foundery promotes a self-made philosophy and hands-on practice while steeped in a supportive environment. “We encourage people to become founders of their own ideas,” Fleischer said. “We want to be able to provide the tools to help them realize those ideas.”

As a non-profit, the Foundery’s doors are kept open by Fleischer’s and his co-founders’ out-of-pocket expenses. Their primary goal for the next year is to become self-sustaining.

Fleischer has found the transition from designing at Lockheed Martin to teaching hands-on fabrication at the Foundery a rewarding experience. “It’s been amazing teaching people how to use flux-core welding…to show [them] how approachable welding is.” Though, he jokes, the Foundery’s equipment is the “Fisher-Price version” of Lockheed Martin’s, there have been plenty of successes and pleasant surprises. For example, women make up more than 40 percent of the welding classes.

Regarding advice for aspiring engineers or at-home do-it-yourselfers, Fleischer claims that passion is key. “As a little kid, I always wanted to be an inventor, and in college I kind of lost that start-up mentality,” he said. “Stay passionate about engineering. It’s a great feeling to know you can build something yourself.”

Posted on November 18, 2013