Where Forrest Iandola’s from, the nicest buildings were nowhere near as magnificent as the one he laid eyes on as a UI freshman in 2008.
The $50 million, 225,000-square-foot Siebel Center for Computer Science tends to have that effect on students.
“It looked like nothing I had seen in my hometown of Pearl City, Illinois, or even in Chicago,” says Iandola, whose first semester coincided with the center's grand opening. “Siebel Center reminded me of the Yahoo headquarters that I had seen on a rare visit to San Jose, California before I started college.
“The sheer size of the building — it’s as long as a city block — and its four-story glass facades are what first drew me in. But, once I started classes, what I liked the most was the auditorium in 1404 Siebel Center. It feels futuristic. In my 18-year old mind, I thought: ‘This room is what Mission Control would be like if NASA were to do the moon landings today.’
“For the rest of my time at UIUC, I thought: ‘If I work hard, I will be able to start a software company, and our company will eventually have a building like Siebel Center.’
“Today, I am living out those dreams as CEO of DeepScale, a California-based company that develops AI software for automated driving. We are still working on getting a building like Siebel Center.”