Material Man at Under Armour

December 23, 2014

Matt TrexlerToday’s athletes are hungry for the latest fabrics, shoes, and accessories that will boost comfort and performance—and so is Matt Trexler ’00.

Inside the Innovation Lab of Under Armour, the $2.3 billion apparel and accessory company, Trexler is among about 40 researchers who are assessing the latest technologies in everything from sensors to heart monitors to textiles.

“Under Armour wants its science to be real,” says Trexler, a materials scientist with a PhD from Georgia Tech, who previously worked at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. “It’s based on testing … If we say it’s going to keep you warmer or cooler, we’ve done quite a bit of work to make sure that’s true.”

And while Under Armour invents plenty of its own products, it accepts and evaluates ideas from virtually anyone—employees, professional athletes, manufacturing partners, and even some guy in a garage. Each year, the company sponsors an Under Armour Future Show, with a prize of $50,000 for the winning idea. If an idea has merit, it gets funneled to the lab.

Though Under Armour is open about soliciting ideas, the company is super-secret about assessing, testing, and evaluating its products. The Innovation Lab, at company headquarters in Baltimore’s Locust Point, is off-limits to visitors. It’s down a long, white hall that looks like something out of Star Trek. It’s here that engineers such as Trexler look three to five years out for innovations that will reshape their business.

“My job is to look at the data and make sure it’s legit,” says Trexler.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of JHU Engineering Magazine.

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