About our Program
While attending the Governor’s Academy for Engineering Studies, students will have the opportunity to explore a wide range of engineering fields. Students will be challenged by a rigorous academic curriculum that will prepare them for college. We utilize project based learning and modern technology to prepare the students for tomorrow’s challenges.
What is Engineering?
Engineering is a field that requires math, science, art, and creativity to create something useful. It’s based around solving future challenges, such as creating new and renewable energy sources, building infrastructure, solving environmental issues, and countless other things.
In March of 1999, under the leadership of Mr. Joe Tylus, Principal of Lloyd C. Bird High School, a steering committee convened to start the planning of what today is known as the Virginia Governor’s Academy for Engineering Studies. The committee started with some essential questions: Why should a young person want to be an engineer and what, in a course of studies, would attract a young person to engineering? Over the next several months, the committee developed a mission statement and a program of study designed to “allow students to explore a wide range of engineering fields while building on an understanding of the core skills necessary to further his/her education in engineering” (Steering Committee Workbook).
Mrs. Robin Malone was the first center director for the Pre-Engineering Specialty Center and, under her guidance and administration, the center recruited its first cohort of 32 freshmen who entered Lloyd C. Bird High School in the fall of 2000. The Class of 2004 blazed a trail for students who followed and set a standard for enthusiasm and hard work. The following year, 42 freshmen entered the program and the center saw an increase in enrollment every year thereafter.
Mrs. Beth Teigen, a mathematics teacher in the program since its beginning, became the center director in 2004. As the program grew, so did the number of applicants and entering freshmen. Each subsequent cohort grew until there were over 50 freshmen entering the program each year. Mrs. Teigen was promoted to Assistant Principal in the summer of 2005, and Mrs. Nancy Hoover assumed the director’s position. Mrs. Hoover, like both directors before her, had taught in the program since its beginning. By 2008, the program expanded to offer a 3-year pathway that would enable sophomores to join the engineering program. That same year, applications for the four-year program swelled to over 175 and the freshmen class expanded to include approximately 75 entering freshmen. The first graduating class of the Pre-Engineering Center graduated from college, many with engineering and science related degrees. In July of 2012, Mr. Bob Benway joined the Academy as director and has brought a great deal of experience and excitement for engineering with him.
In August 2018, Dr. Nancy Hoover returned to Bird as the Academy Coordinator. Despite the pandemic and all of the challenges that came with it, Dr. Hoover’s expertise allowed for a smooth transition to the Engineering program’s new permanent leader, Mrs. Kathryn (Katy) Clarke, in the summer of 2021.
Mrs. Clarke is an L. C. Bird graduate, former Bird and Appomattox Regional Governor’s School Chemistry teacher and provides the perfect balance of positivity, organization, and accountability to our program. As a parent and teacher, she brings a relatable approach to the position and looks forward to affording every student in our program the opportunity to grow their hunger and interest in all things Engineering.