Augusta Prep teacher Eric Miller already knows how he and his students will use the school’s new tech facility.
“We’re going to build a car,” said the school’s motorsports engineering instructor. “We build electric cars, so when we get in we’ll build a new one, maybe a motorcycle and whatever else they want to build; the sky’s the limit.”
For Augusta National Reserve officials who broke ground Tuesday at the W. Rodger Giles Inquiry, the sky is truly the limit. The institute’s astronaut logo helps symbolize the future of the currently enrolled 2-year-old prep students, who will graduate in 2038, in a world that already includes NASA, Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket and the Chinese Space Agency, said college dean Derrick Willard. Everyone is working hard to send humans to Mars.
“In response to current and future challenges that we can’t even imagine, we developed a vision for a unique future-proof science and engineering building that prepares our students for the workplace of the future,” Willard said.
On the drawing board:Science, technology at the forefront of Augusta Preparatory Day School’s new center
The institute is named for the Augusta-area restaurateur and commercial real estate investor who passed away in 2018 and bequeathed funds to Prep to help build the facility.
Totaling approximately 19,000 square feet, the two-story building is designed to provide larger, more adaptable lab space for Prep’s emerging courses, such as robotics, engineering and computer science. The Institute is expected to be completed in early 2024.
Thomas Burnside, who graduated from Prep in 1984, is Chairman of the School Board. He called Prep’s teachers its “greatest asset” and their mission to provide a quality education, with “poor facilities” constantly showing their age.
“I can say that now because most of the science classes and labs that are used here today are the exact same ones that I studied here about 40 years ago, before we even had computers,” he said. Obsolete might be an understatement, so we as a board decided and decided it was time for our facilities to keep up with our programs. And today, we took a huge step forward in that process.”
Development prep director Pam Weinberger said the school has raised $9.3 million from donors to pay for the entire construction of the building. An additional $1.9 million is being raised to establish an endowment to sustain the institute.
Founded in 1961, the private school moved in 1963 to its current 50-acre Martinez campus on Flowing Wells Road.