In 10 years, a former Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center student plans to have his company’s name in one other country besides the U.S.
“Eventually, I see my company (2Dots Electronics) being like another Apple Inc.,” said Brandon Rice of East St. Louis. Rice was a four-year participant of the Upward Bound BEM Program at the SIUE East St. Louis Center. He also graduated from the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School in 2013, ranking fourth in his class.
“We are a consumer electronics company. I want to be on the forefront of innovation and technology,” said Brandon, who recently completed his freshman year at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The electrical engineering major started the electronics company with five other U of I students.
“I don’t see much new innovation in computer technology today,” Rice said. “Nothing has really changed with the IPhone or the Mac. But their background companies are the ones doing the innovating work, like Qualcomm.
Qualcomm has now skyrocketed in the area of consumer electronics, according to Brandon, which is what he wants for his start-up company.
Currently, Rice’s company is working on a new system for laser tag.
“The 2Dots laser tag system is a completely mobile and immersive experience for people of all ages,” explained the young entrepreneur. “The. The main goal is to provide a different outlet to play laser tag. It is an innovative game with ultra sound, infrared and smart phone technology.
“This system takes all the fun of laser tag and puts in on Facebook. Its attributes include being small, mobile and fashionable. We are ready for the future, and we feel the future is ready for us.”
Rice has been working in electronics since he was nine years old. “I was taking apart my brother’s radio control cars when he was younger,” he said. “My grandfather was a carpenter and did a lot of electrical work, and I learned a lot of things from him.”
At age 13, Rice said things fell into place for him when he observed people creating electric scooters and smart houses.
Rice attended CHS from 2009-2013 and was on the school’s robotics team the entire time. For three of those years, he was the captain of design for the CHS Robotics Team.
The CHS Robotics Team won several awards during Rice’s time, including finishing among four finalists in the double elimination round of an international Botball competition of 63 teams. The competition was held in July 2011 in Orange County, Calif., featuring teams from around the globe including Poland, Austria and Qatar.
At that competition, the CHS team also received a Judges’ Choice Certificate: The Mars Rover Viking Award for “achievement against great odds,” because the school did not have a practice table at the time as the majority of competing teams did. Rice was also among robotic team members who placed third out of 17 teams in the 2011 Greater St. Louis Botball Regional Tournament held at SIUE.
Rice also joined Upward Bound as a sophomore and remained in the program through his senior year in high school.
“I joined because I wanted the program to help me with college readiness, tutoring and writing,” Rice said. “Upward Bound also referred me to SIUE’s summer engineering program. I really liked it.
“We got to stay in dorms and see how college life would be. They taught us about civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering and chemical engineering. That is when I found out I wanted to go into electrical engineering. Scientists can use complex circuits and can program something that works well.”
Rice attended SIUE School of Engineering Summer Camp in 2011 and 2012.
Rice was a student who always pushed himself and worked hard, said Edward Schuessler, his former Upward Bound counselor.
“Brandon always seemed to be up for an academic challenge. I have no doubt in my mind that Brandon will be a success in life,” said Schuessler.
Rice finished up his freshman year with a 3.5 GPA and is eager to start his sophomore year at U of I. He is currently taking summer courses at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
“I’m taking English 101, because it’s a subject that I’m weak in,” Rice said. “A good engineer will take into consideration the entire project, and that’s what I’m trying to do with my education and career goals.”
SIUE East St. Louis Center Upward Bound BEM
The Upward Bound (BEM) Program is committed to developing a year-round education program, which will excite, motivate and prepare a selected 65 high school students from the program’s target areas. The quality services provided will prepare the students for successful high school completion and entrance into post-secondary programs.
Upward Bound (BEM) is a college-preparatory program designed to serve low-income and/or potential first-generation college students who are currently in grades 9-12.
The program serves students who attend, or plan to attend, Brooklyn High School, SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School and Madison High School.
Those eligible to apply are students from Illinois School Districts 188 (Brooklyn), 189 (SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School) and 12 (Madison) who, at the time of initial selection, are in grades 9-12 and between the ages of 13-19. Students must be from a low-income family and be the first in his/her family to pursue a college education. Students must also require academic support for pursuing education beyond high school.