Central Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Initiative

  • Students on Mechatronics Trainer
  • Students working on CNC
  • Students Collaborating on Project
  • Students Show off a Game Arcade
  • Students at Choose or Lose
  • Troubleshooting Breadboard
  • PVCC at ATE PI Conference
  • HS Teacher Learning Laser Cutter
  • Student Welding
  • Student with Soldering Exhaust Fan
  • Teacher PD
  • Student working on Soldering
  • Students on Manufacturing Day


The Central Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Initiative is building an advanced manufacturing education and training program following industry-endorsed solutions supported by the National Science Foundation, Advanced Technological Education grant. This initiative addresses critical industry-defined technical education and training needs, and the grant will substantially enhance the curricula and create pathways for advanced manufacturing technicians. The program will prepare an estimated 300 technicians in the next 10 years (at least 60 during the three-year grant period) for careers in advanced manufacturing troubleshooting, maintenance, and installation.

Program Resources:




Are you interested in coming to Piedmont Virginia Community College to see our facilities and labs? Would you like us to come and do a demonstration project with a  group or class? We will work with you to visit your school or institution and work with students to build hands-on manufacturing-based projects to get a taste of what we do here at PVCC. Email Katie Thach if you would like to set up a meeting, visit, or outreach opportunity!

For more information on our annual Manufacturing Day event, click here!

Katie Thach - kthach@pvcc.edu

2018-2019 Events:

Tools for Schools: May 16, Albemarle High School (Materials/Files)

Tools for Schools: May 1, Western Albemarle High School (Materials/Files)

Tools for Schools: Apr 30, Monticello High School (Materials/Files)

Buford STEM Night: Apr 23, Buford Middle School

Tools for Schools: Apr 18, Greene County Technical Education Center (Materials/Files)

Advisory Board Meeting: Apr 17, Piedmont Virginia Community College (Presentation Materials)

Women in STEAM: Golara Haghtalab: Apr 3, Piedmont Virginia Community College (Poster)

Manufacturing Day: Feb 21, Piedmont Virginia Community College (Poster)(Website)

PVCC Choose or Lose: Nov 16, Piedmont Virginia Community College

Building a Mechatronics-Friendly Community from K-Gray: Oct 26, ATE PI Conf, Washington, DC - Hunter Moore

Building Relationships by Engaging High School STEM and CTE Teachers: Oct 25, ATE PI Conference, Washington, DC (Presentation)

NSF ATE 2018 PI Conference Showcase: Oct 24, ATE PI Conference, Washington, DC

Women in STEM: Dr. Jennifer Chiu: Oct 16 at Piedmont Virginia Community College (Poster)

CBIC Tech Tour 2018: Oct 9 at Piedmont Virginia Community College

Building Partnerships with Schools: July 26 at HI-TEC Conference 2018, Miami, FL (Presentation)

2017-2018 Events:

Pi Servers and Motors: April 26 at Fluvanna High School

Central Virginia Manufacturing Advisory Board Meeting: April 17 at Piedmont Virginia Community College

Making Bearings Move: April 12 at Albemarle High School

Making Bearings Move: March 1 at Greene County Technical Center

Making Bearings Move: February 23 at Charlottesville High School

Manufacturing Day: February 2 at Piedmont Virginia Community College (More Info) (Register) (Poster)

PVCC Choose or Lose: November 17 at Piedmont Virginia Community College

Arduino Engines: November 7 at Miller School Virginia

ATE PI Conference Showcase: October 25 - Washington, DC

Emerging Trends in Mechatronics Education: October 24 at ATE PI Conference, Washington, DC - Hunter Moore

CBIC Tech Tour 2017: October 10 at Piedmont Virginia Community College

In the News:

Project-Based Learning Modules:

We are in the process of developing project-based learning (PBL) modules that exemplifiy some of the learning targets and skills we are building here. Below are some of the materials and design files you can use to get started. Check back frequently as these will be updated throughout the remainder of the grant period.

Solder Exhaust Fan - Ohm's Law

Students design the circuit and schematic while building an enclosure for a solder exhaust fan. This project looks at Ohm's Law through building a practical tool for future use. This project is generally taught in the introductory electronics courses to familiarize students with basic components, tools, and how to calculate the correct values for the parts of your fan made from common computer case fans. This tool is used in further classes and can be easily modified. The basis for this project allows students to experience and play with Ohm's Law and see the direct impact it has on the designed circuit. All the materials and design files are located within the Github page.

Bearings from Scratch - Tolerance and Efficiency

Students create a simple, yet tedious look into simple bearing manufacturing. Students develop an alogorithm to manufacture multiple bearings. The bearings are generally laser cut and made with small airsoft pellets, BBs, or balls. The examples in this project show how important tolerance is when manufacturing parts. Students can design a machine using the bearings and look at its efficiency in design. All of the design files are located within the Github page.

Relay & EL Extravaganza - PCB Manufacturing

Students build a small relay board that can trigger another device with varying voltage from a low voltage microcontroller. The current board is can be milled or etched by hand and connects with common parts found online easily. Students will use the board to talk to a variety of applications. The example deals with EL wire since it is a safe and interesting look at converting AC/DC voltages and controlling them via output on a microcontroller. The Micro:Bit is a great learning tool that can easily be used to introduce a variety of topics within this project module. All of the design files are located within the Github page.

Internet of Motors - Wireless Motor Control

Students build the basis of a Linux-based server to control motors and build a circuit that can be managed using Python and a simple motor driver. Students will be introduced to small board computers, motor control, server setup, and Python scripting. The introductory process and setup are documented and tested. From here students can add different sensors, outputs, and control algorithms in order to build a robust and cheap wireless control system. All programs, scripts, and schematics are posted on the Github page.

Greenhouse Temperature Control System

Students will build the basis for a temperature controlled system that is controlled by a simple microcontroller and temperature sensors. The output of the system is a resistive heater and fan to help monitor airlfow, heat adjustment, and readout the temperature in a greenhouse. This simulates the experience of a small greenhouse and can be adapted to add readouts, humidity sensors, motor control and more. This is  the foundation of a temperature control loop and the will provide an introduction to mechatronic systems with real application. Handout for the module and introduction schematic and code are listed on the Github page.

Microcontroller-Hydroelectric Power Storage Device

Students will to explore electromechanical design, microcontrollers, energy conversion, mechanical design, and basic hydraulic, electrical, and mechanical principles. The student will create a system that mimics the use of hydroelectric power principles to store excess electrical generation. In addition to basic principles and application as described, this also provides the instructor the opportunity to delve into discussions on energy economics, alternative energies, and broader system level thinking. The outline for this lesson is posted on the Github page.

CNC Machine Design

Students will build a small CNC-based machine using simple and cheap parts to program and run a drawing machine using cartesian coordinate system machining. The machine will be programmed through Gcode using a separate computer and design interface. Students will finalize a small CNC using the test example as a basis and building off of other projects from research. They will design the system including the gantry, bed, and spindle/drawing device mount. The linear bearings can be designed or purchased as well. The introduction project materials and resources are posted on Github.

CTE Teacher Professional Development:

Looking to weave advanced manufacturing tools and skills into your curriculum? We offer various trainings and professional development opportunities catered to your schedule that provide insight on developing project-based learning modules around advanced manufacturing tools. We will share pedagogical strategies, assessment development and experience in teaching project and design work. We are focusing on creatitivy and command of current tools like CNC, 3D printers, laser cutters, various microcontrollers, multilple programming languages, and more! Email Eric Bredder for more information and scheduling.

Eric Bredder - ebredder@pvcc.edu

For current projects being taught at Albemarle County Public Schools check current offerings here and past classes: http://www.ebredder.org/archived/18sp/ACPS.html


Through the grant period, the creation of a full program in advanced manufacturing will serve a minimum of 60 students (with 30 in year three and an additional 30 per year after the grant is completed) and focus on four goals:

  1. Develop an innovative, formal education and training program that will provide more regional residents with knowledge and skills in the advanced manufacturing field
  2. Enhance the advanced manufacturing career pathway between secondary and post- secondary institutions to attract both traditional and non-traditional students
  3. Develop training capacity by establishing an advanced manufacturing lab, open access curriculum, and project-based-learning modules (PBLs) and
  4. Support regional economic development in advanced manufacturing through the education and training of a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce.

Industry Partners:

If you are interested in supporting these students and building a network of advanced manufacturing partners in the area please contact our Outreach Liaison, Katie Thach.

Katie Thach - kthach@pvcc.edu

If you would like to work with our students to provide them with internships, apprenticeships and on the job training, please contact our Job & Internship Coordinator, Gigi Davis.

Gigi Davis - madavis@pvcc.edu


This program is supported by the National Science Foundation, subject to the provisions of NSF 14-577, Advanced Technological Education program (ATE). Award No. (FAIN): 1601168 Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.