Adelson Campus Unveils $4 million Tech Incubator
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Beaming school officials joked that, although there was no playground slide like the one at Google’s headquarters, the new technology incubator at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus had just about everything else.
The campus at 9700 Hillpointe Road saw the grand opening of the 5,000-square-foot, $4 milllion addition on Sept. 28.
At the technology center’s ribbon cutting, Sheldon Adelson — founder of the private school and the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. — spoke briefly.
“We will be the only private school in Las Vegas that has this kind of setup, this incubator,” he said. “Actually, I’m going to partially resign and become a member of this class. Then I’ll figure out what to do the rest of my life.
“Somebody in the family has to make a living,” he joked.
With the opening of the new incubator, students gained access to state-of-the-art technology to design, engineer, create, code and develop real-world projects. The curriculum will see students coding and creating both physical and digital items and benefiting from one-to-world devices — meaning a mobile computer for every student. A look around the center showed drones on shelves waiting to take flight and robotic critters whose travel could be programmed by writing code. Sitting in a row were more than 12 3-D printers, some with freshly made items sitting in them: a mug and a pair of dice.
The printers used different material depending on what one needed to produce. Mostly, students will use various kinds of plastics, said Leon Wilde, incubator coordinator, as he gave a tour. “One type is made from corn,” he said. “When you’re printing something, it smells like maple syrup.”
Younger students will use Tinkercad software to make simple 3-D items, while older students will utilize the Fusion 360 program, which allows one to design “almost anything, even items that require multiple pieces,” Wilde said. He should know: He used his own Gigabot 3-D printer to restore a 1970 Mustang, which needed parts that proved impossible to find.
The school’s $10,000 Gigabot was located in the “dirty lab” part of the facility. Nearby was an $8,000 full-spectrum laser machine, along with less high-tech tools such as a lathe, a milling machine, a drill press and a table saw. Three students, Niv Shahmoon, Brandon Mosher, and the Adelsons’ son, Matan— all age 17 and seniors — used them to make a backgammon set.
They kept the original frame as a reminder that projects require meticulous planning.
“We were banking on it being a one-time wonder, like it would work the first time,” Shahmoon said. “But we went through so many prototypes, I think we printed it at least 10 times. Trial and error — you just have to work through it.”
Another room was for audiovisual students. It had 16 large-screen computers, roughly half of them with Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) machines, which allow a wide variety of musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another.
The area was for filmmaking, animation, sound and visual projects. There was a green screen for photo and video projects and a “whisper room” for recording sound. But the name “room” was a misnomer: It was about the size of London’s iconic telephone booths of old.
Israeli exchange student Noy Shalev, 16, was using the audiovisual room for her photography exhibition project. She said that the size and scope amazed her when she and other students began using it about three weeks ago. Her friends back home will “be amazed,” she said, “and they’ll be jealous because this is not an opportunity all schools have.”
Yvonne Houy, computer science and coding teacher at the school, used the technology to create an app that determined where one stood, then mapped a route to any destination. It’s something the students will also create for themselves later in the school year.
Steven Mack, who, along with his wife, Dawn, made a substantial contribution to see the addition come to fruition, said that the technology initiative was “not about the gadgetry. It’s about providing the tools and opportunity for our children to create things that will change the world.”