Upcoming Robotics & Automation Academy open to Fauquier and Rappahannock county high school students

Home » News » Upcoming Robotics & Automation Academy open to Fauquier and Rappahannock county high school students

For Immediate Release:
December 18, 2023

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

Robotics sudent
There will be an info session on the academy at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 20.

High school students in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties have the opportunity to earn a robotics and automation career studies certificate this spring through Laurel Ridge Community College. The Go Virginia-funded Robotics & Technology Academy is also open to adults living in the region of the college’s Fauquier Campus.

The Robotics & Automation Academy is a 16-credit career studies certificate program that introduces students to robotics and automation systems that use Industry 4.0 technologies. Industry 4.0 is the growing trend towards automation, technology and data exchange in processes within both the information technology and the manufacturing industries. These cyber-physical systems use technology that includes artificial intelligence, cloud computing, network security, robotics, programming and the Internet of Things.

“The academy has a dynamic learning environment,” said Heather Burton, the interim dean of Early College and High School Partnerships. “It’s not just learning from a book. It’s field trips and hands-on experiences. Students are exposed to businesses and corporations. We bring in guest speakers.”

Academy students will have the chance to work with NAO robots and various robotic arms. 

“It’s really learning how to make society better with robotics and technology,” said Computer Science Professor Melissa Stange, who is the program lead for the Technology Academy.

In Virginia, the average robotics technician’s annual salary is $55,335.

High School students enrolled in the academy would take buses from their school to Laurel Ridge every morning, and return to their home schools late morning to take their regular classes. Among the college-level classes they would take at Laurel Ridge are Introduction to Robotics, Automated Manufacturing Systems I, Industrial Robotics and Robotics Programming and Preventive and Predictive Maintenance.

The spring academy comes on the heels of the Drone Academy offered this past fall at the Fauquier Campus, which will again be offered in fall 2024. Together, the academies are known as the Technology Academy.

“Both academies fit into our associate degree in technical studies,” said Dr. Stange. “If they earn these two certificates, they can take four general studies classes to earn that associate degree.”

Interested high school students should reach out to their school counselor as soon as possible because classes start Jan. 16. Adults interested in the program should call 540-351-1505 to learn more. There will be an online info session at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 20. Use this link to join:  https://vccs.zoom.us/j/84279667051


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (www.sacscoc.org).

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.