Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration

The opening of Blair’s 170th year brought all the excitement that every new school year brings, but this September, students and teachers had even more to celebrate: The Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration opened its doors just after classes got underway. Home of Blair’s technology and fine arts departments, the open-architecture, technology-rich academic center is unlike any other campus facility. In the days following its opening, the building was already abuzz with activity: Students had their first classes in intriguing courses, such as artificial intelligence and film and animation; after-school activities, such as yearbook and robotics, geared up for the semester ahead; and clubs and class councils convened in the Chiang Center’s café and flexible, comfortable meeting spaces well into the evenings.

Below, several students and teachers to share their initial experiences in the School’s newest academic building, a venue designed to inspire creativity and facilitate hands-on, collaborative learning. Their impressions give the entire Blair community a view into the activities taking place within the Chiang Center's glass-walled spaces—and a glimpse at how these activities will continue to build on the best of Blair’s academic and community traditions.

Irene Choi '18

"The CIC is awesome. I love how the glass walls let you see outside the classrooms and how they let people peek in as they walk by—it will be great for prospective students, as they will be able to easily see what we're doing in class!

 

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Film Making

I teach film and animation, meaning and media and graphic arts in the Chiang Center’s media lab, which is very well equipped for all of these courses. The green screen room/recording studio is an excellent resource for student filmmakers.

Robert Hanson
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Mr. Garrant

Digital fabrication equipment is new to us at Blair, so organizing and setting up our materials and tools has occupied much of my first week in the CIC. I have also dedicated many hours to training students and faculty in the concepts of design and use of equipment so that they can work independently.

 

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CIC

This is a really cool building. It's the perfect place to study because there's plenty of room, we can talk and eat, and there are places to meet with a group or just work on your own. The first night I had CIC manager duty, almost 100 kids signed in to study, and they used every area of the facility, from the art studio on the third floor to the maker space in the basement.

 

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Read More about Ryan Green '19
Mrs. Sykes

My ceramics and sculpture students got their hands a little messy during their first week in the CIC, but I front-loaded some technology instruction, too, to help them begin thinking about how they might use the 3D printer, laser cutter and vinyl cutter to enhance their pottery and sculpture projects. We used the software packages I researched during the Faculty SummerInstitute and learned more about the capabilities of our new technology as we worked.

 

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Artificial Intelligence

In addition to debugging some of the CIC's new equipment and software, I had the pleasure of kicking off my AP computer science and artificial intelligence courses in a dedicated and well-equipped technology classroom, as well as engaging with kids during evening duty as they acclimate to the new facility and explore how they might use it for curricular and co-curricular projects.

 

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Mrs. Ryerson

Even before the school year started, CIC student managers came to me with a great plan for open houses. They wanted to get as many community members as possible into the CIC right away, to help everyone feel comfortable there and learn their way around.

 

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Skeptics in the CIC

Although I don't have any classes in the CIC, I volunteered to be a student manager because I'm excited about the prospect of the new building. As soon as it opened, we took a tour with [Head of School] Mr. Fortunato, who explained that our job is to learn how to use all the equipment in the maker space and throughout the building so we can help others. Safety is our first priority.

 

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Read More about Summer Will '19
Ryan Manni

Everything in the technology classroom is high tech! The projector is like those I've seen in college classrooms, and it is amazing that we have that technology in high school. I'm used to taking technology classes in the basement of Timken Library. In the CIC, the classroom is wide open and has a very different feeling—much freer and lighter. We can really observe what our classmates are doing, no matter where we are in the room.

 

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Read More about Jason Pan '18
Liam Junkermann '19

The openness of the robotics classroom is especially profound because people will actually be able to see the progress robotics students are making. I took robotics last year and want to stay involved this year with a project of my own. As a CIC student manager on Friday nights, I hope to make that happen.

 

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Explore

The Chiang Center Comes to Life: A Photo Gallery

A Closer Look: Inside the New Building

Maker space

3D PrinterThis ground-floor laboratory/workshop provides “messy space” for creation, invention and learning. It brings the capabilities of the well-used Park Street maker space to the heart of campus, opening up new opportunities for hands-on project work.

The maker space includes the following equipment:

  • Laser engraving system, which engraves, cuts and marks all types of materials, up to 40 x 28 inches
  • Vinyl cutter, which creates images and signage using a computer-controlled plotter that cuts vinyl for transfer to walls, windows, banners and fabric
  • Dye sublimation print system, which creates transfers on heat-resistant paper for digital decorating of plastic, cards, paper or fabric
  • Wide-format color printer that creates photo-quality prints up to 11 x 17 inches
  • 3D scanner that creates digital 3D models of real-world objects
  • Three 3D printers that produce 3D parts using ABS or PLA plastic
  • An electronics workstation where students can assemble and test electronic components, including arduino, LEDs, sensors and motors
  • Power and hand tools, including a band saw, sliding compound miter saw, jig saw, Dremel, hand drill, sander, wire cutters, wrenches and more

Collaboration Forum

Chiang CenterA signature space in the Chiang Center, the Forum is a large, central, semi-circular open area with an atrium ceiling that extends to the second floor. Furnished with white boards and comfortable, modular seating, it is ringed by windows that provide views to the landscaping outside, as well as views into the conference and team rooms that surround it. Effectively sized and technology-rich, the space is easily configurable for large and small classes, meetings and seminars, and is home to our renowned Society of Skeptics lectures, as well as offering convening space for full faculty meetings, student organizations, and programs that connect alumni, students, faculty and members of the surrounding community.

Media labs

Media LabA first-floor, glass-walled classroom and a smaller, second-floor lab, each fully equipped with Macintosh computers, industry-current Adobe Creative Cloud software and video/audio production equipment, are devoted to independent and fine arts class digital media projects. Critical communication, storytelling and narrative skills are highlighted as students leverage filmmaking and production technology in these centrally located and easily accessible labs.

The first-floor media lab features five digital audio workstations that are equipped with LogicPro X, a professional music editing and producing software; Finale, a professional musical notation software; and full 88-key MIDI keyboards that can be programmed with virtually any sound imaginable. Students enrolled in Blair’s digital music/songwriting class record original compositions on multiple tracks in the recording studio (located adjacent to the media lab), then transfer these compositions to the media lab for editing, mixing and final production.

Technology classrooms

Robotics

Two dedicated classrooms on the second floor house computer science, robotics and engineering classes. Students do not need to set up/break down projects at the start and end of every class, and they can work on their projects during free time. Blair’s robotics team meets after school and competes during the fall and winter months; the team won the Cliffside Cliffhanger competition in November 2017.

Recording studio/photo studio/green screen room

Recording RoomBlair’s recording studio is immediately adjacent to the first-floor media lab; here, students record their original compositions on multiple tracks, which can then be transferred to the media lab for editing and mixing. Students enrolled in Blair’s digital music/songwriting class use to this equipment to write, record, and produce their original compositions.

The photo studio and green screen room provide space for students to test controlled photo and video shots with specific needs in mind. From the control room next door, lighting and audio input levels can be adjusted, and the studio is equipped with several professional-grade lighting setups for a variety of project requirements. Blair’s photographers and videographers have the opportunity to take their creativity to the next level while leveraging the best tools in the business.

Art studio

Art StudioThe Chiang Center’s third floor is dedicated to fine arts instruction, and the central space is occupied by an open, airy studio. The space is flooded with natural light pouring through large windows and skylights; surrounding classrooms are glass-walled to allow for light and promote active collaboration. The architecture classroom is equipped with drawing tables, white boards, an audiovisual system and all the tools necessary for drafting and design. Across the studio, the digital photography classroom is furnished with spacious worktables, a photo printer and ample display areas for student work. The space is open to students who want to do artwork during their free blocks, evening hours and weekends.

Ceramics studio

Ceramics Studio

A ceramics studio is located on the Chiang Center’s ground floor. Fully equipped for all manner of ceramics projects, the studio boasts 14 potter’s wheels, two electric kilns, a raku kiln, a Bailey Pugmill and an audiovisual system. Students working in the ceramics studio also have access to the full array of tools in the adjacent maker space.

This is the first academic space at Blair that is open, where you can literally walk into the midst of intellectual discourse. The Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration emphasizes what we've always said about learning at Blair: that it extends beyond the walls of the classroom. The creation of classrooms without walls and classrooms with transparent walls is a visual representation of what is happening intellectually.


Nathan Molteni, Dean of Academics

The Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration is a forum for ideas and project-based learning that, by virtue of its integration of fine arts and technology, open architecture, flexible configuration and inviting, well-equipped spaces, amplify the Blair experience for all of our students, encouraging deeper relationships, connectedness and learning.


Chris Fortunato, Head of School 

The Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration is everything we are at Blair. Its glass-walled and light-filled spaces promote teamwork and allow all the more for the development of the relationships on which we pride ourselves.


MARIANNE LIEBERMAN ’79, Blair Trustee & Task Force Committee Member

News on the CIC

Chiang Center Spotlight

Since the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration (CIC) opened last fall, teachers and students have taken advantage of the technology, tools and space available in the state-of-the-art academic hub to work on a variety of projects. Here we spotlight some recent undertakings.

Read More about Chiang Center Spotlight