Mentorship is a vital part of life for anyone who wants to be successful. It comes in many forms both personally and professionally—parents, teachers, bosses, coaches, and even friends can all help push someone towards growth in many different areas. Mentorship is especially crucial during one’s youth, and one organization is helping do just that right here in Orange County and across the nation!
What is the ACE Mentor Program?
The ACE Mentor Program is a nationwide non-profit organization that has been around for over 25 years. Their mission is to “engage, excite and enlighten high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction through mentoring and to support their continued advancement in the industry.” ACE Mentors are local professionals who volunteer their time twice a month to go into high schools and share their passion with students that are interested in architecture, construction, and engineering (ACE).
In the ACE Mentor Program, a participating high school group is about 15-25 students which is paired with a small group of mentors for an entire school year. This year, KNA ACE mentors were working with students at Valley High School in Santa Ana, CA.
ACE student participants get to see real life projects first-hand by visiting job sites, industry offices, and other relevant locations. The program also hosts yearly competitions where students can showcase their design/building skills, as well as providing approximately 2.5 million dollars in scholarships every year to ACE Mentor Program seniors and alumni.
ACE at KNA
KNA Structural Engineers had the privilege of hosting the ACE Mentor students from Valley High School in our office last week to take a tour and see up-close what it really looks like to be a structural engineer. Principal Larry Kaprielian spoke to the students about the process of how buildings come into being, including the relationship between the Owner, Architect, Engineers, and Contractors.
The students were also able to complete the Marshmallow Challenge, as well as visit several work stations to see current KNA projects that are being worked on. The students and mentors alike thoroughly enjoyed the visit, and we hope that we convinced at least one of them to become a structural engineer!
Why Volunteer with ACE?
Mentorship is often just as valuable a learning experience for the mentor as it is for the mentee. KNA BIM/CAD Designer Vanessa Becerra explains why she became a mentor two years ago: “My favorite teacher in high school was my drafting teacher. I would love to teach architecture in high school, but since those classes have mostly been taken out of schools, I figured mentoring would giving me that chance. This year we have several students interested specifically in architecture so they have tons of questions. I love providing them with the most information I can so they understand what they have to look forward to.”
KNA Project Engineer Han Kim, who has been an ACE mentor for 4 years, not only enjoyed working with the students, but also found this program to be a great way to network and learn from other industry professionals: “The ACE Mentor Program has been a personally rewarding experience in sharing and expressing my passions in structural engineering. ACE also provides unique opportunities to connect and learn from other mentors in the industry outside work hours, which was part of the reason why I initially decided to become a mentor.” In addition, being a mentor can also strengthen professional skills such as explaining complex concepts and presenting in front of an audience.
“I want to guide and inspire young students interested in this industry. Some students are interested but don’t understand what it truly means to be an architect or engineer or construction worker. I didn’t at that age. I believe helping the students fully understand what these titles actually mean will guide them on the right path to a college, trade school, or wherever fits them best.” –Mark Patterson, Design Engineer
Think back to your younger days when you were trying to figure out what you wanted to do with your life. How did you decide on what career to enter? Was there someone who helped you along the way? Have you ever considered being that person for someone else? With over 70 affiliates in 37 states across the country, there may be one near you! Read more about this amazing program and see how you can get involved here: https://acementor.org/mentors-volunteers/