Just off Bel-Red Road is a small space nestled among printing shops, auto-part dealers and a dance studio. If you look closely you’ll see a sign that says StudentRND. It is here that students create robotics, plasma speakers and iPhone applications.
Student Research and Development, more commonly known as StudentRND, is a nonprofit that provides a space for college and high school students to learn, innovate and use normally inaccessible resources (think laser cutter, 3D printer, oscilloscopes, full computer lab) to create new technology.
Interested? The year-round nonprofit is free for University of Washington, and high school students. For those looking to be the next Steve Jobs, StudentRND is offering an eight-week-long summer Incubator session. Applications are due May 15 and applicants are encouraged to apply in teams.
The main purpose of StudentRND is to provide resources for students interested in learning how to construct new technology, according to CEO Edward Jiang.
“If you love to read or you love information, you can go to the library and then you can walk in and use their resources,” said Jiang. “Like a library, this place is for people who love science and technology.”
Jiang explains that the fast pace of evolving technology can make it hard for students to keep up if they were to learn about computer science or technological innovation only in a classroom.
“A lot of students think ‘well, I don’t know how to do something so I’ll just wait to take a class to learn it, and then I’ll learn it,’” said Jiang. “But what we’re trying to change is that mindset to ‘I don’t know how to do something but I can learn.’”
With StudentRND’s peer-learning approach, students are free to experiment with projects for fun but also have the opportunity to create some amazing stuff.
Bellevue College students did just that during a recent 48-hour StudentRND event called Code Day. Kathryn Brusewitz and Brandon Ramirez won first place by creating a smart-phone application called “Slide.”
“It’s kind of a sideways Tetris, except there’s only three different columns, rows, and you have to match up groups of three before they get to the very left of the screen,” said Ramirez, a computer science student.
Ramirez said the game part took about five or six hours to develop but the entire product – including the time-intensive menu -- took over 24 hours.
Brusewitz said that for her, “being under pressure really helps” when it comes to creating games. She said that the time crunch pushed them to finish their product, but once it was finished the two were still thinking of ways it could be improved.
“Even though our game ‘Slide’ isn’t complex or thought provoking, the simplicity of it is what makes it fun,” said Brusewitz. She based the idea of Slide on the fact that “people like to match and sort things.”
“Slide” was Ramirez and Brusewitz’s first game created, but the two are not stopping at this point. They have plans of launching a gaming software studio in the near future. They are still playing around with names for the business.
All of this ingenuity is made possible through funding by the Medtronic Foundation and Stratos Product Development, as well as sponsors such as Google and Microsoft.
To find out more about StudentRND, please visit studentrnd.org. The space is located at 1405 132nd Ave. NE, Suite 3 in Bellevue and is open Wednesdays 2-7 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 7 p.m.
Apply for the StudentRND Incubator program, an 8-week summer program to develop a technology startup. You can apply as an individual or a team. Applications are due May 15. More details at http://incubator.studentrnd.org/
(RAECHEL DAWSON is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)