The Derek Blume Memorial Scholarship was established in July 2007 by family and friends of Derek Blume '03. Spendable Income from the Derek Blume Memorial Scholarship provides annual scholarships for students enrolled in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering.
Derek Hans Blume started his journey toward engineering very early in life. As a three year old boy, he was already taking basic pieces from his child's tape player and putting it back together. Anything that turned, moved or made mechanical sounds had to be explored. The washing machine was an endless fascination for Derek, who spent hours watching its cycles. As a young teenager, Derek was already working on his mother's MGBs. At age 17 he rebuilt the MGB engine and also performed extensive work on the MGB GT, bringing it to a safe and reliable driving condition. In middle and high school, Derek found his place in the student body in the technical theater. He quickly found an important role in keeping all things electrical working well. He also repaired many tools and appliances that otherwise would have been discarded. It was in high school that Derek found a penchant for computers. Parents told many tales about Derek after discovering that he had taken their computer apart or changed configurations to make improvements. Derek was not afraid of what he loved.
Derek graduated from the A. James Clark School of Engineering in December 2003 as a Computer Engineer. He was a member of Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), Gamma Xi Chapter, for which he was a chairperson. He led the car wash fund raising event and was the grill master at the HKN barbeque. Derek had an affinity for lab courses, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and was especially skilled with the digital logic and microprocessor design projects, according to fellow student and HKN member, Dan Dutrow.
While at University of Maryland, Derek worked at the University's Tawes Theatre, where he was able to combine his affection for technical theatre and engineering. Bill Brandwein, Tawes Theatre Manager, said of him, "Derek enjoyed working backstage. He went to work at Tawes Theatre his first year at the University, and remained there until his graduation. He began as a stagehand, but within a year he was a crew head. He loved tackling maintenance and construction projects for the theatre. He mastered the lighting and sound systems, and was the 'go to' person for setting up and running them. Eventually, he served as the lighting designer for major cultural, dance, and theatrical events. He was also the stage manager for many of these events. As he learned more, he applied his engineering skills to the facility. He designed, built, and installed the digital control system for the theatre's work light system. While working at the theatre, Derek discovered the joy of the sonic quality of analog audio and began to collect vintage records and sound systems. He enjoyed a wide range of musical styles, from disco to classical, and was constantly exploring new frontiers."
Hired right out of school by Space Ground Systems Solutions, he loved the people with whom he worked. And he loved the work, as he was doing exactly what he wanted to do: embedded systems and firmware.
Derek was an avid skier and ultimate frisbee player, an incessant tinkerer, an adventurous cook, a budding wine geek, a brew-master, a retro audiophile, and a lover of both cutting edge technologies and antiquated machines, especially his beloved MG; with all, keeping friends ever close at hand. He had an enthusiasm for all things electrical and mechanical. Derek was a rare and beautiful soul, the likes of which will never be seen again.
Sadly Derek left this life at the tender age of 25 with many hopes and dreams ahead of him when he died in his sleep on July 29, 2006. In order to honor his memory and assist students at his alma mater, his family and friends established an endowed fund to support students enrolled in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.