Design Discovery Youth Summer Program

Design Discovery is a 6-day summer program hosted by the UVA School of Architecture that invites high school students of all backgrounds to unlock their creativity through design-thinking. Each session will demystify design and introduce it as an empowering way of seeing and working in the world.

Participants will operate in both academic and real-world settings: a learning-through-making workshop series, an architecture firm visit, and a tour of an active construction site. An ‘I See Me’ lunch and learn series features conversations with a diverse cross-section of UVA alumni, faculty, and students. All youth participants will have access to dedicated workspace in our studio environment with appropriate safety orientation to our robust Fabrication Lab. Each program session culminates in a celebratory exhibit with food, families, and friends.



To provide memorable learning experiences and positive impact through youth, community, and UVA student-centered objectives:


  • Activate creative minds, build community, and empower youth through hands-on learning in immersive environments.

  • Raise awareness of career pathways within the design professions through career connections and real-world experiences.

  • Foster a sense of belonging for first-generation and underrepresented youth


  • Raise design awareness and represent UVA and the School of Architecture as a positive and inspiring presence to high schools, youth, and families.

  • Contribute to state and local education initiatives in career-learning and provide equitable access to quality STEM/STEAM education.


  • Establish community engaged learning coursework, student assistant positions, and summer teaching fellowships for current School of Architecture students pursuing a career in design education.

Design Discovery seeks to provide a meaningful and transformative experience to high school students through engaged, hands-on learning. The program invites youth to be empowered by seeing their ideas come to life through design thinking and making.


  • Session 1: Monday June 10 – Saturday June 15, 9am - 4pm 

  • Session 2: Monday June 24 – Saturday June 29, 9am - 4pm


We will begin and end each day at the UVA School of Architecture’s Campbell Hall (110 Bayly Drive, Charlottesville), taking advantage of our building's studio space, FabLab, and design software. Programming will include visits to locations in Charlottesville and across UVA Grounds. Dormitory options are available for non-local participants.

Applicant Eligibility: 

  • Current 10th to 12th grade students, ages 15–18. 

  • First Generation, BIPOC, and design-curious candidates are encouraged to apply.

Session Ratio:

  • (1) Director + (3) Design Discovery UVA Student Fellows

  • Maximum of (20) youth participants per session

Application Process:

  • Submit this form by our early decision deadline (Friday March 1, 2024) or the final application deadline (Wednesday May 1, 2024).

  • Early decision is encouraged for an increased chance of securing a spot in the program.

  • Applications are evaluated based on personal statements and our goal to build a diverse cohort in each session. 

  • Applicants will be notified if they are accepted to the program within a week of the selected application deadline.

  • Accepted applicants will be invited to complete the registration process by Monday June 3, 2024. 

  • A waitlist will be managed through the application and registration process.

  • Direct application questions to Design Discovery Director, Kyle Sturgeon at

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