HUDSON — Students at Western Reserve Academy can make state-of-the-art projects at the new $2.6 million Wang Innovation Center, which opened this summer and was dedicated Oct. 21.
The center includes equipment such as 3D and laser printers, metal and wood shops and circuit training. The space is compartmentalized, each with different functions — the Imagine/Plan area, Prototype area and Build area. The facility has a computer room, fabrication area and workshop.
The donor, Xuning Wang, and his family cut the ribbon, officially naming and dedicating the 6,000-square-foot facility. Wang asked that the amount of his donation remain private.
The Burton D. Morgan Foundation also supported the Center with a $250,000 donation.
"Burton D. Morgan Foundation provided a grant to support the new Wang Innovation Center as a way to catalyze the entrepreneurial mindset among WRA students," said President and CEO Deb Hoover. "We are thrilled to see how the space and equipment are being used by students and faculty to enhance exploratory learning, design, and invention. We believe this dynamic facility builds upon the pioneering spirit that characterizes WRA."
The contributions were a cornerstone of a $75 million "Campaign for Excellence & Access," a campaign supporting faculty, financial aid, academic programs and renovations to the historic WRA campus, according to Sarah Forrer, WRA media relations manager.
Xuning is a WRA Board of Trustee member and alumni parent. His company in China is Joyoung, which developed a way to make milk from soy and has grown through innovation, said Head of School Christopher Burner.
"Through his dedication to and the success of his company, it is clear Xuning is a leader of character, passion and talent," Burner said. "Moreover, I hope they understand that they have energized the school, and me, in our search for innovation and excellence."
Xuning’s sons graduated from WRA, Barnabas in 2015 and Joseph in 2016.
"It's not just about what we know but how we create and make things a reality," Joseph said. "Every student with all kinds of interest and passion can use it for education and future development."
Co-president of the WRA Board of Trustees Tim Warner said Xuning leaves a legacy with the Wang Innovation Center.
"On the path to making a difference, a leader shows great heart," Warner said. "As the father of two recent Reserve graduates, Barnabus, now at Columbia, and Joseph, now at Stanford, I believe Xuning's family – his heart – was his inspiration to lead this project."
The WRA project was based on the Innovation Theater in Guangzhou, China, Warner said.
"Collaboration fuels this space," Warner said. "Every day students interact with faculty and other students in creative, inclusive and transformational ways. It also is a place where learning is fun; by all reports, the center has become one of the most popular spots on campus."
Burner said he met the Wang family in a hotel lobby in Shanghai seven years ago and they formed bonds as Barnabas and Joseph enrolled at WRA, and Xuning joined the WRA Board of Trustees.
The Wang Innovation Center embodies Western Reserve's commitment to innovation and progress, Burner said.
The school has overhauled its curriculum, created a new daily schedule and is retooling its academic facilities, he said.
"It is a beacon of innovation, curiosity and creativity for our community, igniting ideas and drawing outsiders to the school," Burner said.
Matt Gerber, dean of faculty and director of the Wang Innovation Center, said the building is dedicated to ‘making.’
"Making is what makes us human," Gerber said. "We have an ability to use our hands and minds to create, delve into and communicate. Some use their hands and minds to make beautiful music, write a book and others create an invention to extract milk from soy. They are makes and innovators who enjoy the rewards and frustrations of making."
"The design process allows members of the WRA community to select large and small problems and derive creative ways to solve them," Gerber added. "We want our students to exhibit a growth mindset, take risk and experience failure."