Holding the Upper Hand: Ace Mentor Program
ACE Mentor Program Inspires
Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
The recipe may vary, but with its combination of real-life role models, boots-on-the-ground field trips and an intensive collaborative student project competition, the Ace Mentor Program provides its own genius mix for building our country’s leaders in Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE).
The program is the construction industry’s fastest-growing high school mentoring program, reaching over 8,000 students annually and firing early interest in careers critical to U.S. prosperity.
Kraus-Anderson has been involved with the ACE Mentor Program since day one when it started seven years ago. Al Gerhardt, KA COO, joined the board of the Twin Cities chapter and immediately began recruiting KA employees. KA Project Manager Jake Boerboon hopped on board right away, and now serves as vice chair and program director for the chapter.
Currently five KA professionals participate as mentors: Andrea Blair, Nathan Theisen, Brad Harvey, Rachel Yoder and Ken Francois). Participation in the 2016-2017 school year includes 58 students and approximately eight schools.
“Every year, it is always exciting to see the students grow and learn,” Boerboon observes. “Most start with little to no knowledge, but by the end of the year they are putting together full models and plans.”
The program has awarded over $50,000 in scholarships, with 75% percent has been awarded to minority or female students. “Seeing how grateful and touched the students are when we award them scholarship money is one of the most rewarding parts of being a mentor. It makes all the hard work and time worth it,” says Boerboon.
Words from an ACE Mentee
The ACE Program caught the eye of an Edina High School student, Chantel Boileau. Growing up in a family with construction industry involvement, she has always had an interest in construction; a spark which has grown through her participation in ACE.
The ACE experience has given Boileau a chance to meet role models such as KA Superintendent Carol Sende, a trail blazer for women on the job site. Sende started at Kraus-Anderson as one of its first female carpenters in 1984, working her way towards superintendent in 1994. Sende shared some of her years of valuable experience and knowledge with Boileau as they toured and hosted an OSHA inspection at the Mount Olivet Careview construction site.
“Carol helped me further understand the role of superintendent and realize what a career in the construction field would look like; as well as the several paths there are to get there,” says Boileau. Being shown firsthand and walking in the shoes of a superintendent also helped fuel her interest, she added.
Sende provided a realistic and empowering example to the student, telling Boileau that the road to becoming a superintendent is “as difficult as you make it.” Sende also added that you need to have patience and willingness to work with people, but most importantly, “it’s all about mutual respect. It is important to have thick skin and understand how key respect is in this business, ” Sende said.
After shadowing Sende on the job site Boileau says she “appreciated Carol’s ability to multitask and take on several problems at once.” She noted how challenges have a way of appearing without a moment’s notice. “You need to be prepared and be able to think on your feet with regards as to how you’re going to solve that problem,” Boileau said.
Get involved in the ACE Program
Kraus-Anderson is proud to be involved with the ACE Mentor Program and to guide and advise young individuals as they determine their future career plans.