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That's a Wrap: Reflecting on the 2019-2020 ACE mentor season

August 11, 2020

ACE mentors and mentees saw new challenges considering the presence of COVID-19, but our mentors knew it was important to adapt and push through

For over 10 years, Stantec has proudly supported the ACE Mentorship Program. ACE is an after-school program designed for high school students pursuing architecture, construction, or engineering for further education. There are over 10,000 students who participate annually, with 69% from minority groups and one-third of the group identifying as female.

Starting with five Stantec employees registered as ACE mentors, we now have 123 mentors in 20 offices throughout the United States—some who have been volunteering for over 10 years. There’s no doubt students within the program are gaining knowledge and passion for architecture, construction, and engineering.

The 2020 mentoring season was a tough one with COVID-19 spreading globally well before the school year was over. There are plenty of learnings and highlights to reflect on now that we’ve wrapped up another year.

Lighting Up Philadelphia

In our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office, this year saw 12 mentors working with 14 students in the program. One of the activities that sparked an interest in the mentees was the electrical engineering presentation and activity where students were tasked with either creating a homopolar motor (a wire that spins itself around an energy source) or building a working electric circuit—the goal being to light an LED lightbulb. Students were then given the added challenge of trying to add another working LED light to their circuits, which was a success.

Rotations in Texas

In our Plano, Texas office, 19 mentors took on 17 groups of six students each. One event saw mentees rotate through the office to hear from eight different disciplines/professionals and see some of their work. The students loved gaining this kind of up-close exposure to the professionals. This chapter wrapped up their mentoring season before COVID-19 hit, meaning they could safely host their Awards and Presentations Night where they gave away $40,000 in scholarships. 

Reimagining New York City

In our New York office, 35 mentors had 31 students on their roster. When the time came to move mentoring online because of COVID-19, mentors adjusted their approach to group meetings by using their weekly full team meeting as a recap session, while individual design groups were encouraged to meet virtually through the week. Their project took on the challenging task of re-imagining what a New York City street could look like if more value were placed on the pedestrian, rather than the automobile.

This year, ACE mentors and mentees saw some new challenges considering the presence of COVID-19, but the mentors knew it was important to adapt and push through. With the start of a new school year fast approaching, our mentors recognize this year will be different and are preparing to shift mentorship activities to virtual meetings. Our greatest priority is to make sure we can still provide collaborative mentorship to the students and continue to inspire the next generation of our industry.

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