UMES takes another step to beef up classroom security
PRINCESS ANNE, MD – (Aug. 15, 2013) – A private-sector investment the University of Maryland Eastern Shore made in 2004 will pay safety dividends in its classrooms starting this fall.
The university has committed to purchasing 200 Bulletproof Whiteboards manufactured by Pocomoke City-based Hardwire LLC.
Hardwire and UMES announced the transaction this week at the 2013 Maryland Association of Counties summer conference in Ocean City, where they also shared a vendors’ booth to promote both entities.
"UMES is the first university to adopt the Bulletproof Whiteboard as a critical layer of its student and faculty security system,” Hardwire founder George Tunis said.
“It's ‘back-to-school’ season, and as a result of its leadership, UMES will be one of the safest campuses in the country as students return to school,” Tunis said.
Classes for the fall semester at UMES resume Aug. 26.
Tunis launched his high-tech company in 2000 with high-tensile strength, twisted-steel wiring for reinforcement of buildings and infrastructure. After America’s military was mobilized for the war on terrorism, Hardwire began “to work on armor protection for ground vehicles, aircraft, boats and personnel.”
That transition occurred with help of a $250,000 loan arranged in 2004 by the Maryland Hawk Corp., a UMES-affiliated, non-profit organization that focuses “on the commercialization and entrepreneurial development of intellectual property.” The Maryland Hawk Corp. eventually extended Hardwire a second, $500,000 loan.
Tunis noted the first loan enabled “expedient delivery of armor to soldiers, which resulted in thousands of saved lives.”
“The Bulletproof Whiteboard is a direct derivative of this same military armor that Hardwire and UMES scaled for the war effort, and it is now available for schools,” he said. “Hardwire is proud to work with UMES in making our students safer."
UMES faculty members will be issued the 18-inch by 20-inch Bulletproof Whiteboards for use in their classrooms. Like first-generation whiteboards, they can serve as portable writing tablets during delivery of lectures and labs.
University officials see the technology as another proactive step among many the university has taken to provide a safe learning environment.
“Classroom safety is not a pleasant topic,” UMES President Juliette B. Bell said. “Unfortunately, campus violence is a reality that we have to be prepared for, and this technology allows us to be proactive rather than reactive.”
“We appreciate and applaud Hardwire for its innovative adaptation of this technology to potentially save lives. Their entrepreneurial spirit serves as a great example for our students,” Bell said.
Tunis equates his company’s newest product as being “Similar to a fire extinguisher, which buys time for the fire department. The Bulletproof Whiteboard is a tool that buys time until the police arrive in an active- shooter incident.”
UMES campus police Chief Ernest Leatherbury agrees.
“As a professionally trained police officer for some three decades, I’m always encouraged when I see new technology that helps keep people safe,” Leatherbury said.
“This is so accessible. And it’s not cumbersome.”
UMES utilizes a variety of strategies to bolster and maintain a secure campus, including instant electronic alerts that go out to e-mail addresses and cell phones and notices that appear on special monitors around campus.
“The whiteboards are just one more tool in our tool box,” Leatherbury said.
Bill Robinson, director, public relations, (410) 621-2355