Augusta Prep holds ribbon cutting for new STEM facility, W. Rodger Giles Institute for Inquiry

In January 2023, Augusta Prep broke ground for the W. Rodger Giles Institute for Inquiry. In less than a year, the Giles Institute officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 11. This new, 20,000-square-foot, one-of-a-kind #STEM facility for the Augusta area opened for classes on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Augusta Prep alum Clay Boardman helped unveil the building by officially cutting the ribbon. Mr. Boardman, Head of School Derrick Willard, Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Burnside, III, and Director of Development Kristin Ludwig all made opening remarks at the ceremony, which also honored the classes of 1989, 2014 and 2020 for their support of the building and the adjacent Teardrop Monument Plaza.

Their contributions were:
  • The Class of 1989, who have donated a bench in the Teardrop Plaza in memory of Christopher Lawrence.
  • The Class of 2014, who donated the cornerstone for the building, and had the foresight to predict a science center that is now a reality.
  • The Class of 2020, who donated the conceptual design for the Teardrop Monument and Plaza.
Also at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Augusta Prep honored former longtime Director of Development Pam Weinberger with the “Helping Hands” sculpture in her honor inside the Giles Institute.

Our current students are graduating in the midst of the “4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION,” which is being driven by high-speed Internet, cloud technology, artificial intelligence, automation, 3D printing, and big data analytics.

With such rapid changes across industries, how can schools keep up and make sure students are prepared for the world beyond college?
In response to this challenge, we have developed a vision for a unique future-facing sciences and engineering building that prepares students for these forces and the workplaces of the future. To better equip each and every Augusta Prep student to skeptically interrogate and improve our common world, the new W. Rodger Giles Institute for Inquiry will provide new programming that is more interwoven, inspiring, individualized, illuminating, and iterative than the sciences education of our past. Think less “sit and get” content-heavy lectures and more “hands on” skills work.

This new STEM Education facility 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. This facility will be one of a kind in the Augusta area and not only host traditional science education (biology, chemistry, physics), but expand our technological sciences (coding, robotics, engineering) as well as venture into the more futuristic science learning tools using digital fabrication (3D printing) and augmented/virtual reality. These tools, like virtual reality devices or 3D printers, will be available for use by all our teachers and students, not just those enrolled in required or elective science courses.

"Since our founding 63 years ago, Augusta Prep has provided an excellent education designed to inspire students and equip them for college and career success. We remain passionate today about teaching kids how to think, not what to think," Willard said.
"As we live our mission in the present, we are mindful that we are called to prepare our students for their future. Inquiry-based teaching methods are vital to such preparation. We are so excited to be launching our future today – the future of our students, our teachers, our school community, and our greater Augusta area." 

If you are interested in learning more about the Giles Institute or Augusta Prep in general, please contact Director of Admission Courtney Hatcher.
Augusta Preparatory Day School is an independent, college preparatory school serving children ages 2 through Grade 12 from the greater Augusta-Aiken area. Augusta Prep seeks to enroll a group of diverse students. We follow an open admission policy, whereby qualified candidates are admitted without regard to religion, race, nationality, economic background, or ethnic origin.