Buford Celebrates Opening of First Engineering Design Academy

By: Ruth Morton
By: Ruth Morton

September 29, 2013

People in Charlottesville had the opportunity to celebrate and see a new partnership between local schools and the University of Virginia.

Charlottesville's Buford Middle School hosted a ribbon cutting and open house for the Buford Engineering Design Academy.
Buford is the first public school in the Commonwealth Engineering Design Academies, a lab school partnership with the UVa's School of Engineering and Applied Science and Curry School of Education.

The project is pairing UVa professors with Charlottesville and Albemarle public school teachers and students. Classrooms link via video to the partner lab at UVa, allowing UVa professors and students to offer lessons and create ideas for the participating schools.

This network of labs, professors, teachers, and students will form the Commonwealth Engineering Design Academies.

"I think all schools are gonna benefit from it. Hopefully, this will serve as a model to a lot of schools in America that, you know, this type of learning, this type of facility, is gonna advance kids' learning," said Eric Johnson, the Buford Middle School Principal.

"A UVa student comes and she actually helps us in the engineering classroom along with our teacher. And they both help us," said Lamia West, a Buford 8th grader. "So, they're teaching us more. So, we're learning so much more with UVa."

People who toured the new labs were able to see speaker systems that students developed using a 3D-printed design, along with other demonstrations.

Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins, Charlottesville Mayor Huja, professors from the UVa Curry School of Engineering and the Curry School, and others spoke before the ribbon cutting.

"It's good to see all the people come together and it's a sense of community. I feel very proud to be a part of a community that values education the way the city of Charlottesville does," said Johnson.

The Buford Engineering Design Academy will be followed by similar high-tech labs at Charlottesville High School, Albemarle County's Jack Jouett Middle School, and Albemarle High School.

"It means a lot. You know, we talk about we love our kids, we care for our kids, we're very passionate for our kids. Well, it's time for us to go beyond words. I think the city of Charlottesville, the citizens, and now we're at the action phase, and I think you're gonna see that our kids, they're gonna produce," said Johnson.

The labs have been open at Buford for about two weeks and West is already learned a lesson she thinks she'll remember.

"It's been amazing. I think it's been a awesome experience and I've learned so much," said West. "I am the type of person that likes to be perfect. And, one thing my engineering teacher taught me is, it's engineering, you're gonna mess up quite a few times but that's just the learning experience. So that is one thing that has really stuck with me. And I probably will never forget it."

"It's quality. And, so, the kids love it. They appreciate it. The teachers, you know, they benefit from it as well. So, we all appreciate all the things people have done for the labs," said Johnson.

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