ACE Mentor (www.acementor.org) provides opportunities for high school students across the United States to learn about architecture, construction, and engineering. It is one of the many ways we at Arup “Shape a Better World”. Through direct engagement with high school students, staff members of Arup mentor and show them what it means to be an architect, work in construction and to be an engineer.
Arup staff, working through the ACE program, serve as Team Leaders for the entire year and also serve as mentors who visit for an afternoon. Team Leaders plan and execute the ACE program, organized with the local high school teaching staff. Activities include mentoring students, encouraging students applications for scholarships and summer camps, and cheering on the teams during their design competition exercises. Visiting mentors may come to a high school to tell their story and to present their focus in the work of building our world. Frequently these visiting mentors stay on for the remainder of the day’s session, come for additional sessions, and then continue to become more permanent mentors.
In addition to direct contact with students, Arup supports ACE through the local affiliate with donations of funds and donations of time related to organizing affiliate events. Funds are used for busses to get visit Architects and Engineering offices, to visit construction job sites, to host the exciting Trades Days where student hang dry-wall, assemble piping and ductwork, lay-block, pull wire, wire devices, and to run the annual collaborative design competition.
Nataka White has engaged with Turner Construction to support ACE at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, one of the exemplary programs in the city. Many Arup staff have connected to that program, encouraging students to apply for ACE scholarships and summer camp tuition over the years. Arup’s 2015 participation will help the students with their ACE design project, which will bridge Wilshire Boulevard as they execute the streetscape portion of the fictional “University on Wilshire.”
Mark Seaburg, working with Kemi Esho of Gruen Architects, is the Team Leader at the Fairfax and Hamilton High Schools effort to do the Food Court on Wilshire for the fictional university. Earlier in the year the Fairfax/Hamilton team bussed to Gruen Architects for a tour of their office that thrilled the students with the excitement of a real architectural organization. Additionally, Google Sketch-Up was shown to be not only an important tool used by Gruen but an important and accessible tool for students to enter the world of building design and construction.
Students from every Los Angeles High school are invited to participate in the annual All-Schools Day design competition at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and two of the four Trades Days. For a recent trades day, students took busses to the new Federal Courthouse construction site for a night of building trades experience. There is an upcoming End-of-Year event and Career Fair which will feature the combined results of all of the teams in envisioning the “University on Wilshire.” Funding and organizing for all of these activities is driven by the Board of ACE Mentor LA, which consists of many key players in the industry locally: Gensler, Gruen, Degenkolb Engineers, SCE, Turner, PCL, Swinerton, Perkins + Will, HOK, Steinberg Architects, Murray Company, Pierre Landscape, DLR Group, and many others. Erin McConahey is involved at this organizational level.