Senior Sylvia Clark and freshman Lewis Williams began participating in ACE, the construction industry’s fastest-growing high school mentoring program. ACE, which stands for architecture, construction, and engineering, openly welcomes high school students who possess the curiosity and initiative to learn about a career in construction and design.
“It’s great because I get to work with different people from different schools. I get to see their process because I have my own kind of process for construction. We get to share our ideas and learn more about each other, but also learn more about those concepts,” Clark, who plans to major in landscape architecture at Auburn University, said.
Participants join a team of other students led by adult mentors who practice associated professions, such as mechanical engineering, architecture, interior design, and construction management. ACE centers around immersing its students in future careers by engaging them in authentic building projects.
“My favorite part about the program is getting to know all of the actual engineers because you get an idea of what their experiences were and what they did in high school and college,” Williams, who plans to attend Georgia Tech to pursue aerospace engineering, said.
Over 50,000 nationwide students enrolled in the program participate part in exciting projects, informative field trips, and other engaging activities that will occur within a 15 week period. Williams and Clark meet at the Cobb Galleria every Tuesday from 4:30 to 6:30 starting now until May.
“It’s difficult because it’s an extra workload on top of school, but it’s really fulfilling because it’s helped me learn more about myself and my career path. It’s enlightening and more people should try it,” Clark explained.
The program organizes itself into five separate regions and 64 local chapters in approximately 200 cities and 35 states. According to the official ACE website, participants in the program graduate high school at a higher rate than non-participants. ACE constantly recruits and encourages high school students, especially women and racial minorities, to enter the profession.
“I think these students are dedicated for choosing to be a part of the program, especially because they have to drive themselves down to the Cobb Galleria every Tuesday,” construction teacher Mr. Squiers said.
Students visit professional offices, job sites, and other relevant locations to discuss the similar issues and perform the same tasks as a construction employee would. By participating so, students will obtain a practical, hands-on view of a job’s everyday reality.
Williams offers words of advice for other students who plan to join the program next year: “You have to focus and put your mind to it. Try to be creative and do what you have to do.”