The ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentoring Program was founded in 1994 and is a nationwide program. The program’s main objective is to mentor high school students and inspire them to pursue careers in design and construction. By working with design/industry professionals in real work environments, ACE students receive an invaluable hands-on education; they learn to understand the day-to-day workings of a business by living and experiencing it, and not by just reading about it.
ACE Mentoring is now the construction industry’s fastest-growing high school mentoring program, reaching over 8,000 students annually.
I have been fortunate to be a part of ACE as a Lead Mentor for the past six years which started during my first tour here at WDG Architecture. I have been the Lead Mentor at three Maryland area high schools and to have had the opportunity to start the inaugural programs at two of these schools. Currently I am at Charles H. Flowers High School, but have also been involved with Eleanor Roosevelt and Crossland High School. I was encouraged by one of WDG’s Mentors to get more involved in the architecture community and to reach back in an effort that would further my personal development, and ultimately help the architectural community as a whole. Playing my part and helping to expose the next wave of potential design and construction professionals has been challenging time-wise, but it has been an extremely rewarding endeavor and I have not looked back since the journey began.
Each participating school consists of a group of mentors from different design/construction fields and the students. These teams generally meet every other week after school and more frequently the last month before the student project presentations are done at the end of the year. The intent is for each of the schools to present their projects to the other schools in the region to show other students, parents, teachers and anyone who is interested what they have been learning and working on for the year. Presentations vary in nature and amount of detail, and may consist of power-point presentations, presentation boards, models, AutoCAD, Revit, Vector Works, Sketch Up or whatever media they want to present in – just like in architecture school. The program is fun, but it can also be intense. While all of the schools may complete the year they may not present at the end of the year, as some may feel overwhelmed by the process or are just overcome with fear at the thought of public speaking. In the final analysis, though, they all seem to have learned, conquered and grown.
Four of the students that I have mentored have won scholarships. Below is a picture of two of my mentees who were awarded scholarship at this year’s Scholarship Awards Breakfast, held at The Willard Hotel.
Actually there is no end. Pay it forward, Each-One-Teach-One. I have found that we as mentors have learned as much, if not more from the students, as they have learned from us.