Switch: A Chance Encounter
Switch—the technology infrastructure company that is powering the future of the connected world®—powers the STEAM experience at ArtPrize.
A remarkable collaboration around STEAM education between Switch and ArtPrize began with a chance encounter a few years ago.
When Switch Founder and CEO Rob Roy was seeking to expand the data center technology giant beyond Nevada to the Eastern United States, the state of Michigan was not on the radar as a potential location. However, a good friend intimated that he was the owner of the former Steelcase Pyramid, mentioned his recent acquisition in a conversation with Rob Roy, and peaked the CEO’s curiosity leading to a site visit in Grand Rapids.
The team landed in Grand Rapids during ArtPrize, an unexpected surprise that set the tone for the entire visit to Michigan.
“Grand Rapids surprised us with its beautiful downtown area, the sense of community and the palpable energy of a place committed to education and technology. All of that told us we needed to be here,” said Switch EVP of Strategy Adam Kramer. “And then there was ArtPrize—such a unique gem that intrigued us on our first visit.”
A Partnership of Smart Design, Technology and Education
Switch had already embarked on the adaptive reuse of the iconic Steelcase Pyramid, evolving it into the smartest technology infrastructure in the world, when the company focused its attention to defining the best way to create community impact in Grand Rapids and Michigan. A partnership with ArtPrize was a natural choice. ArtPrize’s investment in the development of educational programs aligned with Switch Founder and CEO Rob Roy’s commitment to STEAM education and the integration of technology blended with the arts. The partnership with Switch created the STEAM Village powered by Switch at Art Prize.
“Switch’s community investment has always focused on STEAM education and how that enhances economic development. From the moment Rob Roy encountered ArtPrize on that first visit, to the creation of the first STEAM Education Village powered by Switch, we just knew the stars had aligned and a lasting relationship with Art Prize was happening,” said Switch Chief Brand Officer Kristi Overgaard.
The partnership of Switch and ArtPrize created the perfect environment for bringing Switch’s passion around STEAM educational opportunities to life through hands-on immersive experiences and truly capturing the blend of technology with the creativity of art.
Focus on FIRST
Switch’s growing partnership with FIRST® Robotics played front and center as part of the STEAM education experience.
"Switch always challenges us to integrate STEAM elements into ArtPrize in different ways,” said ArtPrize Executive Director Jori Bennett. “Their growing relationship with FIRST in Michigan drove us to integrate the core elements of whole-mind education as the key to designing for and solving the challenges our world faces today, as well as in the future."
The winning teams from FIRST in Michigan paraded the robots through downtown Grand Rapids to the STEAM Education Village. In the Village, the students took on the challenge of re-designing and re-programming their robots to actually draw in the STEAM Village.
The Business Case for Technology and Smart Design
Creativity and whole-mind thinking are the core of innovation and smart design. Without it, we wouldn’t have brilliant minds in fields like architecture, industrial design, civil engineering and robotics. The programming at the ArtPrize STEAM Village opens students to the possibilities of future careers in STEAM.
There is a core business case for the STEAM education experience at ArtPrize in that it provides the critical building block of the future talent pipeline not only for Switch, but for our clients and the business communities where we operate as well,” Adam Kramer added.