By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Recipient of GeekWire’s “Do-Gooder of the Year” award for 2013, Edward Jiang, 22, is ready to do even better things in 2014 with his tech education nonprofit organization, StudentRND.
Jiang has been interested in technology since he was a little kid. At the University of Washington, he studied computer science. He started StudentRND in 2009, excited about what the group could do with technology.
In high school, Jiang and his friends began to work on tech projects together. These started as summer projects and included building iPhone games and apps, building a 3D printer, and replicating the Microsoft Surface table for about $1,200.
Jiang wanted to work on his own technology company when he was younger and be a part of the next generation of technologists.
Many nonprofits get students excited about technology by offering classes or motivational speakers, but Jiang said he wanted to get students to start working on their own projects.
Two years ago, Jiang and his friends decided to do more than just summer projects, and expanded the program into the school year.
StudentRND is targeted at educating students in middle school through college in programming and engineering.
Currently, they run CodeDay, a worldwide network of 24-hour programming marathons, and Labs, a month-long summer program which helps students refine their technical skills and learn to lead software engineering teams.
The team comprises Jiang as CEO, Tyler Menezes as program director, Amyr Haq as partnerships director, Brian Haug as marketing and PR director, and Arthur Wall as partnerships intern.
Jiang said their mission is “to create the new generation of technology by getting students to work on technology projects.”
According to the organization’s website, they are developing the full funnel of tech education. CodeDay generates interest in students who aren’t otherwise interested in programming, and helps them continue their tech passions.
This year, Jiang and the team will be hosting events in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Corvallis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and New York.
To date, StudentRND has run almost 20 events. The organization has two full-time employees with dozens of volunteers across the country.
“This year, we’re really pushing it out,” said Jiang. “Our goal is to get CodeDay into as many cities as possible. One year ago, we were only in Seattle. Over the next few years, we want to reach every major metropolitan.”
They still run the summer program Labs, which has evolved into summer camps, in which students work together on tech projects. Jiang hopes to find a way to synergize both Labs and CodeDay into a cohesive event for many to participate in.
Jiang said their primary partners are eBay and Splunk.
When he found out that he won Geekwire’s Do-Gooder of the Year award, Jiang was surprised, he said. He felt honored to be nominated in the same group that included Artie Buerk, longtime Seattle venture capitalist, Michael “Luni” Libes, entrepreneur, Marc Nager, Startup Weekend organizer, and Hadi Partovi, creator of Code.org.
In the future, Jiang and his team hope to target a younger audience and hold a similar event to CodeDay, but in shorter, 12-hour events focusing on fewer projects.
“Some middle schools have expressed interest, but it’s harder for students to attend a 24-hour event,” he said.
Jiang said he spends a lot of his time planning, organizing, and communicating with sponsors and students for StudentRND, instead of building apps or websites.
In the past, Jiang said potential sponsors didn’t take them seriously because they were a student organization and hadn’t built up their credibility.
These days, StudentRND is making a name for itself nationally.
Jiang said he drew inspiration from the founders of Intel and Dell, and MOZ’s Rand Fishkin. He is looking forward to spreading more good in the tech community in 2014. (end)
For more information, visit www.StudentRND.org.
Nina Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.