Helping open doors in architecture and engineering to all
September 19, 2022
September 19, 2022
Employee involvement in a variety of inclusion and diversity organizations helps to expand the design industry—and Stantec’s place in it
As students walked into the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles, California, their eyes glimmered with excitement. Exclamations of “Look at that!” filled the room as they saw the ongoing construction of the seemingly larger-than-life futuristic building.
After the tour, the students returned to the Project Pipeline summer camp sponsored by the Southern California Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (SoCal NOMA) ignited with ideas for their own projects. The four-week immersive experience for minority students ages 10 to 16 introduces participants to the people, professions, and ideas that make our built environment come to life.
Creativity was their guide during the first in-person camp session since the COVID-19 pandemic. Exposure to moments like this and insight from professionals helps students answer the famous question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Stantec welcomes talent from all backgrounds and realizes the value of different perspectives. Our commitment to Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) aims to help break down the barriers that talent may face in the industry. In addition to corporate-led initiatives, Stantec colleagues invest their personal time with organizations that promote I&D to mentor and inspire the next generation of leaders. There is a place for everyone to get involved. Here’s a look at our employee commitment to three I&D organizations across the US.
Brianna Padilla, a Stantec intern and SoCal NOMA volunteer, spent part of her summer volunteering with students as part of the chapter’s Project Pipeline. Working with local design professionals, students learned architectural design and engineering techniques with a focus on addressing community issues through creativity and design innovation.
For Brianna, engaging minority students was especially moving.
“NOMA unifies people to give a voice to the voiceless and prevent injustices, which is especially important to me as a first-generation college student and a Mexican women architect,” Brianna said.
This year’s program hosted 150 middle school and high school students. It featured lectures, portfolio sessions, and hands-on activities requiring students to collaborate and problem solve to foster learning and break barriers. Students were challenged to reimagine Los Angeles’ Exposition Park as a “museum park” with seven distinct museums that embody the shared attributes of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI). Projects were envisioned within the framework of the highly anticipated Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is slated to open in 2023, and for which Stantec is the executive architect.
NOMA’s mission is rooted in a rich legacy of activism. The national organization’s goal is to empower local chapters and members to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development, and design excellence.
“NOMA is not just for minorities but for allies as well,” Brianna said. “To design a diverse world, we need diverse architects.”
Jessica Cooper, a Stantec associate and SoCal NOMA camp mentor, is one of those architects. She has a deep and special connection with the program. Her NOMA involvement started as a student, has included professional participation in multiple state chapters, and now she serves as the Stantec leader for the SoCal NOMA professional chapter.
“Representation matters. Race, monetary background, or limited exposure can all be challenges in this industry,” Jessica said. “NOMA shows students what they can do and helps them establish a plan. Getting plugged into NOMA elevates yourself as you build relationships that you will carry with you throughout your career.”
To design a diverse world, we need diverse architects.
“What is studying architecture in college like?”
““How can I get started in construction?”
Those are the types of questions bouncing off the walls of the Plano/Frisco, Texas, chapter of the ACE Mentor Program. It’s a busy place. The chapter—one of more than 75 in the US and Canada—has grown from 30 students to more than 100. It’s outgrowing its space!
More than 10,000 high school students participate the ACE Mentor National Program annually. The after-school program is designed to attract high school students into pursuing careers in the architecture, construction, and engineering (the “ACE”) industry, including skilled trades. Every chapter is made possible by local professionals who volunteer to provide students with insight and exposure to these industries before having to decide their career path or invest in college. Those professionals are the ones answering those sometimes-tricky questions from the students.
Samantha Markham, Stantec assistant project manager, has been an ACE mentor and coordinator for several years. She helped start a new Plano/Frisco chapter in 2015 to reach more students. And it certainly has—more than tripling in size. The mentors work with students on a variety of projects to give a true taste of each industry. Samantha has connected with several students from the program after college. She says they all recall the foundation the organization provided.
“The ACE/Stantec partnership shows the value Stantec puts on supporting our future industry pipeline,” Samantha said. “Full-circle stories come out of this program as we have just hired two employees at our office that went through the local ACE program themselves and are now volunteering as mentors.”
“It’s been less than 100 years since Indigenous people were granted US citizenship and only 60 years ago were Indigenous people granted the right to vote in every state,” said Adam Leggett, Stantec Alaska Native Program manager and a member of the Native Village of Eklutna.
Facts like those emphasize the importance of the Alaska Native Program. It was implemented to increase representation of Alaska Native and American Indians in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in business. It focuses on supporting Indigenous programs to positively impact the Native population.
Adam, who helped launch the program, said community engagement, Indigenous employment, and Alaska Native community relations have all grown since its start.
“Many people only have a cursory understanding of the lack of rights, discrimination, and barriers Indigenous people have faced throughout the world,” Adam said. “Our Indigenous Relations and Alaska Native Program provide an opportunity to fulfill Stantec’s mission to design with community in mind by giving a voice and opportunities to communities that have previously been ignored and left behind.”
In 2022, Stantec was named a Top 50 STEM Workplace for Indigenous STEM Professionals by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society for the third year in a row.
Our goal is to create opportunity by inviting, embracing, and celebrating differences. That means inclusion and diversity are central to what we do at Stantec.
We want our community—of more than 25,000 employees across the globe—to be inspirational. It should attract the best and brightest, where everyone feels free to be true to themselves. And where, collectively, we design with community in mind.