Willard discussed the importance of the Giles Institute and why it is being built. He discussed Augusta Prep students graduating this spring in the midst of the “4th Industrial Revolution,” which is driven by high-speed Internet, cloud technology, data analytics, robotic automation, and artificial intelligence.
"In response to current and future challenges, we have developed a vision for a unique future-facing sciences and engineering building that prepares students for the workplaces of the future," he said. "The amazing structure you will see materialize in the next 12 months is the collaboration of student focus groups, science and technology teachers, and two talented architects. This will be the arena in which our students sharpen their skills for college and the workplace--design thinking, prototyping, problem solving, programming, and presenting their novel concepts and innovative creations. We are so proud of this facility and the programming it will host for our students."
Augusta Prep chairman of the Board of Trustees and alum, Thomas Burnside, added:
"Augusta Prep has gifted science and technology teachers, but they are currently working in small and old classrooms and labs built in the 20th Century–spaces that have not changed since I was a student. Fortunately, the programming has changed since I was a student here almost forty years ago! Talented APDS teachers have added coding, robotics, engineering, and cybersecurity classes and competitions for our students since my time at Prep.
"Once completed, this sciences and engineering facility will be one of a kind in the Augusta area and not only host traditional science education (like biology, chemistry, physics), but expand our technological sciences (like coding, robotics, engineering) as well as venture into more futuristic science learning tools using 3D printers and virtual reality headsets. We are so proud to deliver this new teaching tool to our teachers. It will set a new standard for STEM education in the CSRA."
Augusta Prep benefactor, Clay Boardman, Class of 1977, made a few remarks about the importance of this project to the local community.
"There are many fine private schools in the state of Georgia but none have developed a comprehensive sciences facility of this design," he said. "Furthermore, I see this facility, and what it embodies, linked to the continued growth of the Augusta area which is now driven by medical, cyber/tech, and manufacturing industries. We need to develop home grown physicians, software developers, engineers, and scientists to drive this growth. As Augusta continues to draw leadership talent to the area for these industries, we need to continue to provide exceptional educational opportunities for their families.
"Rodger Giles, for whom this facility is named, wanted his estate to provide better opportunities for the children of the Augusta area. Were he alive today I know he would be astonished by and proud of what his lead gift has made possible."