Rewind your clock to your teenage years…remember the days where you sat in biology, pre-calculus, or history pondering what you would do for the rest of your adult life? The reality is that much of America’s youth is in those very same shoes. Fortunately, there are extracurricular programs, clubs, and organizations that help us discover our interests and grow these seeds into life long careers.

I personally benefited from such a program. In high school, I was introduced to the ACE Mentorship program. ACE connects high school students with professionals in the fields of architecture, construction and engineering. Having been through the program myself prior to college, I have since decided to become a local mentor in the Hartford, CT chapter.

Twice a month, myself and 4-5 other professionals spread across the fields of architecture, construction and engineering meet with students at Enfield High School. We carry out lessons that overview a variety of subjects pertaining to structural engineering, design, scheduling, etc. Once we offer an overview of the professions and some of the associated tasks, the students group themselves into whatever area they are most interested in.

Students are then provided a hypothetical design situation where they must design (in terms of architecture and engineering) a solution to the issue at hand. The architecture group will design elevations, plans and sections; the engineers will work on structure, site and HVAC; and the construction management students will focus on creating a project schedule while ensuring proper lead times.

The intent of the program is to provide a “real world” scenario where students can learn about the tasks of professionals in the different areas of ACE, while creating a fun and interactive learning environment. As a volunteer, my biggest satisfaction is knowing that I can provide insight into what otherwise might be muddy waters for these students. Being able to positively impact students’ career choice, even if it is outside of the realm of ACE, is something that I see as a privilege.

If you are in a role within the ACE industry and are interested in joining the organization as a volunteer, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

By: Filipe Pereira, M. Arch, LEED Green Associate