Research Foundation News

May 5, 2021

UEGroup partners with Purdue on new technology experience center in Discovery Park District

XCenter will make technology more user-friendly

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Research Foundation on Wednesday (May 5) announced the establishment of the Experience Innovation Center (XCenter) focused on exploring innovative approaches to how people interact and work with technology. Located in Purdue University’s Discovery Park District, the center is a collaboration between UEGroup and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, one of the 10 academic colleges at Purdue.

“The XCenter’s mission is to bring together amazing minds to reinvent how tech gets done, for humans,” said Troy Hege, vice president of innovation and technology at Purdue Research Foundation. “The center seeks to enable collaboration among industry and academia.”

The XCenter will focus on driving new ideas by rethinking and reinventing how products and technologies are designed in the future. Its goal is to become a regional, national and international hub for product innovation through user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), product strategy and product management. The center includes a state-of-the-art 5G connected usability facility and will provide training, education and consulting services, in addition to hosting innovation conferences, workshops and “Think Shows.”

In addition to doing corporate consulting work, XCenter will enhance academic programs in those areas, giving students hands-on learning and real-world work experience in UX, CX and more. Corporate organizations also will be able to take advantage of training offered to grow their internal product design, research, innovation and product management capabilities and processes. 

The XCenter is the brainchild of Tony Fernandes, CEO of UEGroup, who had more than 30 years of experience in the tech industry at such companies as Lotus/IBM, Apple, Netscape and XEROX PARC, before creating UEGroup.

“We all use technology every day, both at home and at work. It can be incredibly valuable to us, but it can also hold us back because it is too complicated to use or understand,” Fernandes said. “These difficulties translate into negative economic impacts for businesses and lost opportunities for society. After decades with tech, things should have gotten better, but we seem to be sliding backward as technology gets more complex. By helping bring together ideas from academia and industry, the XCenter aims to reimagine how we work, live and play five to eight years down the road and to help organizations get there.”

Fernandes’s pursuit has been to invent ever better ways of empowering people through technology by basing products and services on their real-world tasks, goals and behaviors.

The center will provide a unique resource to the Discovery Park District, as well as the university’s students and faculty, and regional and national innovators.

The Polytechnic Institute is home to Purdue’s technology- and innovation-focused degree programs in engineering technology, computer graphics technology, computer and information technology, technology leadership and innovation, construction management technology, and aviation and transportation technology. Undergraduate and graduate programs provide real-world, hands-on educational experiences that prepare students for innovative, technology-driven careers, which makes the XCenter a meaningful resource for the college. In particular, the Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s highly ranked UX design major will benefit from this new partnership.

“The XCenter will provide our students with many opportunities to augment their classroom work with even more hands-on project work in user experience, customer experience, product design and more,” said Gary Bertoline, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “This state-of-the-art usability facility will enhance our students’ experience and help to build bridges to corporate partners and collaborators.”

The XCenter is part of the Discovery Park District’s living laboratory, designed to provide a place for innovation and experimentation. It will serve tenants in the district and corporate clients in addition to being accessible to Purdue students and faculty. 

“We see this being a new epicenter for inventive product design, user experience and customer experience,” Hege said. “Purdue University was selected for the center because of its reputation as one of the most innovative universities in the United States, its ‘can do’ culture and its location. The XCenter is a natural fit with the district’s overall focus on and integration of data, connectivity and technology.”

“Indiana, and the Midwest generally, are positioned to be one of the next great tech regions with their universities, plentiful open land, hard-working people, low cost of living, easy transportation links to the world and desire to make a positive difference in other people’s lives,” Fernandes said. “Purdue has all those attributes and more, making it the logical location for a center focused on solving the hard problems.”

XCenter will open in summer 2021. For more information, visit

About UEGroup

UEGroup Inc. is a leading user experience, customer experience and product strategy firm based in Silicon Valley, with locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose, California; Chicago; and Lisbon, Portugal. Its clients include Fortune 500 companies and early-stage companies. It has successfully delivered results for leaders in their industries including for such organizations as Disney, Ford, Stryker, Intel, Google and Lockheed Martin. In addition to the Fortune 500, UEGroup has helped early-venture and startups break through the noise and deliver differentiated solutions. Learn more at UEGroup.

About Purdue Polytechnic

The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, one of 10 academic colleges at Purdue University, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in aviation, computing, construction management, engineering technology, technology leadership, and technology education. In addition to Purdue University’s main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue Polytechnic offers select degree programs in nine Indiana communities.

About Discovery Park District

The Discovery Park District is a 400-acre, $1 billion-plus purpose-driven community on the western edge of campus that will include laboratories, advanced manufacturing facilities, offices, retail shops, restaurants, housing, green space, trails, and an airport with a 7,000-foot runway. The district, which is a designated opportunity zone, houses the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration, a facility designed to serve as a “front door” to companies that seek to collaborate with Purdue. Companies interested in locating in the Discovery Park District or Convergence Center should contact David Broecker, the foundation’s chief innovation and collaboration officer, at


Discovery Park District - Troy Hege

UEGroup Incorporated:  Danielle Panigall

Purdue Polytechnic Institute - Gary Bertoline

Media inquiries: Christy Denault, 317/417-6322

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