Everyone in the construction has heard over and over again how young people just aren’t interested in joining the construction industry. What you don’t hear a lot about are the groups and organizations who are actively working to change that. The ACE Mentor Program is one of those organizations making a positive impact for the next generation.
ACE, which stands for Architecture, Construction, and Engineering, was founded in 1994 by Charlie Thornton (formerly of Thornton Tomasetti) and is celebrating its 25 year anniversary in 2019. The goal of the ACE program is to expose high school students to the integrated design and construction industry to help reduce the industry’s current and future workforce shortages.
All high school students are open to apply for the program, which consists of 15 afterschool sessions with industry mentors and an end of the year presentation. Currently, ACE has 74 affiliate branches across 36 states, as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico.
In the 2017-18 school year, ACE was able to reach 9,663 different students from nearly 1,100 different high schools. Through sponsorships, ACE is able to provide this program free of charge, which allows them to better reach underrepresented communities. Minorities and underserved students make up 61% of the students enrolled. Females account for 34% of those involved, which is much higher than the current female representation in the industry currently.
Not only does the program provide valuable industry insight and internship opportunities, they have also awarded close to $17 million in scholarships to students that are interested in industry-related collegiate degrees or a skilled craft training program since their inception. In 2018 alone, $2 million in scholarships were awarded to 750 students.
Amazingly, 73% of the students that go through the ACE Mentor Program enter college with a construction industry-related major or join a skilled craft program.