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University of Virginia Program Brings Advanced Manufacturing to Middle Schoolers

University of Virginia Program Brings Advanced Manufacturing to Middle Schoolers

A collaboration between the Curry School of Education and the School of Engineering & Applied Science at the University of Virginia is bringing advanced manufacturing to middle schoolers.

The school, called the Buford Engineering Design Academy, ” is the culmination of work undertaken in a project called the FabLab Classroom, an NSF Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) project led by Glen Bull, professor at UVa’s Curry School of Education, and co-director of the Center for Technology and Teacher Education.”

The program is pretty cool if you ask us, and has some of the following goals:

  • Give students access to fabrication technologies such as 3-D printers and computer-controlled die cutters
  • Serve as a forum for students to learn science through engineering design using advanced manufacturing technologies
  • Serve as a laboratory for integration of engineering design into science teaching, while also serving as an experimental platform for preparing the next generation of science teachers to use new technology

Really, then, it’s a public school with an advanced (and awesome) focus on STEM skills. There are three other similar academies planned across the east coast, and the coursework has the potential to be integrated into the curriculum of schools around the area–for all students.

Although we have some similar programs for high schoolers in the state–like the Career Pathways Institute in Grand Island, and Career Academies at Southeast Community College, this is one of the first official programs for middle schoolers that we’ve seen.

We like what it represents for the future of STEM, and hope that these sorts of programs start to catch on all around the country.

We’d love to see a similar program for introducing middle schoolers to advanced manufacturing–but what about you? Would you like to see a program like this brought to Nebraska, or do you think our efforts should be spent elsewhere? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments or on Twitter!

Photo credit: Tom Cogill, UVa, via

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