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ACE Mentor Program Awards $38K in Scholarships

Credit: Rebekah Morris, BEX

By Rebekah Morris for AZBEX

Last week, the 2019-2020 ACE Mentor program awarded more than $38K in scholarships to high school students pursuing careers in Architecture, Construction and Engineering. As part of a national program, the Phoenix Affiliate organizes, raises scholarship funds and mentors dozens of students each year with a real-life problem statement over the course of four months, culminating in a Student Showcase where the teams present their proposed solution. Similar to the college level Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Reno Competition, teams are presented with a problem statement that asks them to think through design challenges, budgets, schedules and community impact. Exposing students to a variety of career possibilities and providing much needed scholarship funds enhances the pipeline of craft and professional workers.

Since the local affiliate was established by Valerie Churchwell in 2007, more than 350 students have passed through the annual program. Additionally, 443 mentors across 41 companies have participated. DPR Construction and Gilbane Building Company have raised $16K and $5K respectively for the ACE Scholarship fund. The list of sponsors, mentors and chairpersons reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the local Architecture, Construction and Engineering community with dozens of firms showing their support. Co-Chairs Dan Puente, president of DP Electric, and Antonya Williams, senior vice president of McCarthy Building Companies emceed the event.

Problem Statement: Create a National Monument at Papago Park

Nearly fifty high school students on nine teams from three schools took the stage to present their ideas for creating a National Park within the existing Papago Park. The nine teams proposed solutions that varied greatly in scale, cost and amenities. They had the option of thinking through an open space project or creating a building space. Proposed budgets ranged in cost from $5M-$54.5M and the schedules ranged from eight to 18 months. Each team used visual aids and practiced their public speaking skills with the showcase. Teams had between two and nine participants.

In addition to working after school on the project, teams visited a project site with their mentors. This year’s judges were Bonnie Richardson, urban planner, City of Tempe, Justin Newman, president, hardison/downey Construction and Amanda McGennis, senior vice president, Arizona Chapter of the AGC, and Steve Slonaker, P.E., S.E, PK Associates. The high schools represented were MetroTech High School, EVIT, and Moon Valley.

The winning team proposed a naval ship-inspired museum as a tribute to the USS Arizona. In addition to bragging rights, the winning team is being submitted to the national level ACE student competition. In 2019 a student from the Phoenix affiliate was awarded a single scholarship prize of $40K to further his education in the industry.

Get Involved as a Mentor or Sponsor            

Industry firms and those wishing to participate in the program next year can find more information on the website:

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