Buford Trojans

Middle School

Engineering Design Academy Open House September 30

In honor of an internationally groundbreaking engineering/education partnership, Buford Middle School will host an open house and ribbon-cutting for media and the community on Monday, September 30, from 5:30 to 7:30pm.  

Buford Middle School is the first public school in the Commonwealth Engineering Design Academies, a laboratory school partnership with the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Curry School of Education. The project – the first of its kind – will pair the expertise of University of Virginia professors with Charlottesville-area public school teachers and students.  The Buford Engineering Design Academy – to be followed by similar high-tech labs at Charlottesville High School and Albemarle County’s Jack Jouett Middle School and Albemarle High School – will be linked via video to the partner lab at the University of Virginia, enabling U.Va. professors and students to offer lessons and develop innovations for the participating laboratory schools. 

This network of labs, professors, teachers, and students will form the Commonwealth Engineering Design Academies.  The partnership is so unique and cutting-edge that it has already attracted a television crew from Japan; a representative from China’s National Center for Educational Technology will spend a year in Charlottesville to follow the project. Domestically, the National Science Foundation has created an identical lab and link-up so that it can monitor the program’s development, and the project was recently featured in the National Science Teachers Association’s newspaper, Reports.

Advanced manufacturing technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way everything is made. Technologies such as 3D printing are an important element of global competiveness. President Obama has challenged educators to redesign schools to prepare students for high-tech jobs, and in 2013, Virginia launched the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing to attract such jobs to the state. Commonwealth Engineering Design Academies’ unique university-public school partnership responds directly to these challenges and opportunities.

Support for the Buford Engineering Design Academy comes from the City of Charlottesville, Charlottesville City Schools, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the University of Virginia. These funds build on prior federal and foundation support, including grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the Motorola Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Work at Buford was managed by the City of Charlottesville’s Facilities Development Division under the leadership of Scott Hendrix.  VMDO Architects designed the project, Joe Simpson with Martin Horn CM served as construction manager, and Caspian Construction was general contractor.