British billionaire Sir James Dyson has donated nearly $24 million (£18.75 million) to his former school to develop a new center teaching robotics, programming, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Gresham’s School in Norfolk, which Sir James attended from 1956 to 1965 and where both of his parents taught, will open a new center for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education.
The new “Dyson Building” will be designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre and will be completed by September 2021.
Dyson is famous for attending art school in London yet making his fortune with high-tech reinventions of gadgets like vacuum cleaners, hand dryers and fans. In a statement about the gift, Dyson say that while “engineering and science are the most fulfilling of careers, they are also vitally important to our society and economy.
“To prime a pipeline of young people who want to study engineering, we must inspire them at the earliest possible stage—I hope this building will do just that.”
Addressing the need to catch the next generation of Britain’s “brilliant young minds” as early as possible, the entrepreneur adds that children from around age 6 are “very engaged ... inventive, dreaming up ideas, and curious, wanting to know how they can be made.” He adds, “But these traits get stamped out of them, partly by the system and partly because the teaching of these subjects in schools has not kept up with the pace of technological change. By creating state-of-the-art spaces I hope that we can foster, inspire and educate more brilliant young minds.”