A think space for student scientists | StudentRND offers workshop for science, tech and engineering

When Jack Kim learned Google made $9 billion last year, he began to wonder what would happen if some of that money went to nonprofits. That's when he discovered StudentRND, a creative think space and workshop for science, tech and engineering students in Bellevue.

Adam Ryman

When Jack Kim learned Google made $9 billion last year, he began to wonder what would happen if some of that money went to nonprofits.

So the King’s High School student found a way. Benelab.org has raised a couple grand and led him to an even more ambitious idea – Firedove.

The tool allows people to raise money while shopping online. But before it could become a reality he needed a place to collaborate.

That’s when he discovered StudentRND, a creative think space and workshop for science, tech and engineering students in Bellevue.

He sacrificed his summer plans, including a trip home to Korea, to finish the program in the organization’s Incubator program.

“It sounds too good to be true, but we’re hoping that it is true,” he said.

Students like Kim, who aren’t content waiting to learn science and math from text books, are the reason why Edward Jiang, now 21, founded the organization.

It’s like a public library for tech-literate students.

When Jiang was a student at Interlake High, he circled through robotics, math and business clubs. They had community, but he grew frustrated that students never stretched their creativity outside of competitions. They were about building resumes.

“I thought, you could do more amazing things now,” he said, his red stretched sneakers popped up on a folding table in RND’s 2,500-square foot office space.

The unrefined rooms, scattered with cheap folding chairs, used sofas and cartoon posters, form a youthful den off Bel-Red Road. Start at the vending machine loaded with Top Ramen, pass through a computer lab and find a woodwork shop.

Upstairs, pass by a homemade replica of Microsoft’s touch table and find a laser cutter, which is roughly the size of a small car and probably heavier.

They sold handmade plasma speakers, which use a bolt of electricity to play full lyrical songs, to buy the cutter. Normally the machine costs around $25,000, but RND ordered it’s from China for $5,000.

It was a steal, even considering the manual is written in “Engrish,” said Adam Ryman, RND’s second in command.

While the workshop’s sense of inspiration is infectious, Jiang’s first challenge with founding RND was convincing students that they were capable of “amazing things.”

In school, learning is about passing and failing tests. In life, it’s a process of discovery, he said.

The summer after his senior year, he convinced a dozen students to spend the summer hanging out in his mother’s Sammamish basement tinkering with projects.

It was inspirational, but RND needed money for tools and parts. The teens entered a $25,000 Chase nonprofit Facebook competition, which they easily won. Ironically when the check arrived, they were still too young to open an account with the bank. Now a junior at the University of Washington, Jiang is still the oldest team member.

A confident businessman of sorts, he has since netted a list of recognizable sponsors from Medtronic to Blackberry. With the support, he grew StudentRND from a summer program to a year-round operation.

RND’s signature event is Code Day, where upward of 100 students are challenged to complete programs and apps within a 24-hour period.

“It’s an incredibly powerful event,” he said. “It changes student mindsets.”

The products were so complete, Jiang decided to see what would happen if students were given two months. The Incubator program was born this summer, resulting in seven complex projects, including Firedove. He hopes next summer to give each team $5,000 grants. He’s also planning to establish Code Days in 10 major cities next year and expand RND’s current space.

To cover their biennium expenses, RND has set out to raise $1.5 million in the next three months.

“People thought we were crazy before,” Ryman said, assured this too is possible.

Nothing has stopped Jiang so far.

“This is an opportunity to build something amazing.”

More in Business

Entering the winter real estate market

In Bellevue, the last time inventory levels have been as high as they were in October was 2012.

Wine and Justice is a fundraiser that supports civil legal aid for low-income families in East King County. Attendees heard from Microsoft’s Strategic Policy Advisor, David Heiner and ELAP attorneys on Oct. 25. Photo courtesy of ELAP.
Campaign for Equal Justice hosts third annual Bellevue Wine and Justice fundraiser

More than 80 people attended the third annual Wine and Justice event at Cast Iron Studios in Bellevue on Oct. 25.

LifeSpring uncorks more than half a million dollars

Bellevue auction and benefit sees success.

CEVO has retained or created 7,000 jobs

Bellevue Cultural and Economic Vitality Office reports 2018 progress to council.

Keynote speaker Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, spoke of creating technologies, workplaces, and communities that celebrate and harness the power of people of all abilities, and how she has found strength through her own disability. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Kindering raises more than $330,000 at annual luncheon

Kindering CEO retires after 40 years at the helm.

Two businesses leaving the Marketplace at Factoria

At least two businesses are leaving the mall, with a third possibly departing.

Assistant teacher, Ms. Jyoti prompts questions for the preschoolers. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.
Goddard School holds 11th annual preschooler-approved toy test

Children at Goddard School test toys for top 10 list.

Two Eastside friends develop a service provider application

Amin Shaykho and Marwan El-Rukby develop a local startup called Kadama.

Eastside saw third quarter rise in office vacancy

Vacancy is down on the whole in Puget Sound.

Fall housing market shifts, but still seller’s market

Residential real estate snapshot from John L. Scott

Bellevue trustee company settles with servicemembers

The company is being liquidated to repay active servicemembers who were illegally foreclosed on.

No more plastic bags at Bellevue QFC stores

Other stores to follow Bellevue lead throughout 2019.