ACE at Eight: Building the Next Gen of Architecture, Construction and Engineering Professionals
One of the most life-changing gifts a teacher can provide students is opportunity. An innovative educational program is providing students, teachers and industry professionals the opportunity to inspire each other while exploring careers in the fields of Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE).
Now in its 25th year, the ACE Mentor Program was created by the integrated construction industry to attract students into pursuing industry-related careers. The program’s 74 affiliate chapters nationwide engage 10,000 high school students in a free after school program lasting 15 sessions. Volunteer industry professionals mentor students and lead them through a hands-on simulation of designing and constructing a project. Since its start in 1994, ACE has awarded $19 million in scholarships to help its students with post-secondary education and skilled crafts training.
The program provides relevant, real-world experience in ACE careers, opening a world of possibility outside of four classroom walls. Josh Tyson, a teacher in Shakopee Schools‘ Engineering & Manufacturing Academy and this year’s Twin Cities ACE Mentor Program Teacher of the Year, commented:
“After seven years of working with the ACE Mentor Program, I have had the opportunity to see students utilize ACE not only to help them choose careers, but change their mind to jump into an ACE related career that they had no plan on pursuing before their ACE experience. This program has also been helpful for students who with building professional relationships with others, as well as gaining lifelong mentors in the fields of ACE,” Tyson said.
ACE Mentor Program’s Diversity Focus
The program is an important conduit for introducing a more diverse, representative next gen to the ACE industries: A recent program summary indicates that nationwide, 70% of ACE Mentor Program students are minority or multi-racial. Over a third are female.
The Twin Cities chapter of ACE is now in its eighth year, and going strong. During the 2018/19 school year a total of 74 mentors worked with 104 students from 14 school districts around the Twin Cities metro area, culminating in a competition March 27. Irondale High School‘s team won the competition for the second year in a row.
Eight years in, Twin Cities ACE Mentor program leaders say the program is definitely having an impact. “We now have ACE alumni who are in college, taking ACE programs, and preparing to enter careers in our industry,” says Jake Boerboon, KA project manager and chair of the Twin Cities ACE affiliate.
Meanwhile, students from the Twin Cities chapter are succeeding on a national playing field. In April Sophia McAneney, a senior at Washburn High School, became one of 25 students nationwide to receive a prestigious award in a new $400,000 scholarship program organized by the ACE Mentor Program of America. The CMiC – Allen Berg Memorial Scholarships are worth between $10,000 and $40,000 and are intended to assist talented and deserving students planning to study architecture, engineering or construction in college.
KA Supporting ACE Mentor Program
As a founding member of the Twin Cities ACE Chapter, Kraus-Anderson continues to strongly support the organization. KA Construction President Al Gerhardt and KA Risk Innovation Managing Director Seth Hausman each serve on the advisory board, and each year several KA Construction professionals volunteer as mentors to school teams.
“I believe it’s important to show high school students the different options available to them in architecture, construction or engineering,” commented KA Estimator Lisa David, who this year mentored the Edison High School team. “I think it’s especially necessary for minority students to see representation in fields they may not have been aware existed. Working with high school students was exciting, watching them gain knowledge in software, design concepts or understand fundamentals of the building process. I was encouraged and impressed with their dedication to knowledge and the process,” David said.
Teachers and Mentors Complement Each Others’ Efforts
“In order for ACE to work effectively, it requires the dedication of the mentors and students, said Hausman. “However, the unsung third leg of the stool is the incredible group of teachers. These individuals champion engagement within the school, work often on their own time, and support the program every step of the way. Our success is tied directly to their hard work and dedication,” Hausman said.
“As a Technology Education teacher who has taught, and teaches both Architecture and Construction courses, this program has taken students learning to heights that I cannot during the 47 minutes I see my students per day,” said Tyson. “As a teacher I truly have enjoyed seeing lessons I have taught students during the year come out in their projects for ACE with a much greater understanding.”
Volunteering through ACE is a time investment that pays back in multiple ways, says KA Project Manager John Nordby, named Mentor of the Year along with Tom Dye of MSA Professional Services.
“We’ve all had mentors help us get to where we are. It’s important to help the younger generation and give them career exposure for our industry,” said Nordby.
“It’s important to pay it forward.”
To learn more about being part of the Twin Cities ACE Mentor Program, email TwinCitiesMN@acementor.org