The new Upstate program is an affiliate of the national ACE Mentor Program and is designed to engage, excite and enlighten high school students in pursuing careers in the three fields, according to the national organization’s mission statement. The 11-week program will run through May.
“The model used nationwide is a 16-week program that meets every other week for the entire school year. We have customized the program for Next High School to offer it as a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week,” said Allison Anderson with Turner Construction in Greenville. Anderson is board chairwoman for the ACE Mentor Program of the Upstate. She previously has served as a mentor for the Nashville and Charlotte affiliates.
“Now that I live and work in the Upstate, I wanted to bring the affiliate to our community,” she said.
The program focuses on introducing elements of each of the disciplines to students interested in pursuing careers in the industry. They will learn about site selection, master planning, designing and engineering, budgeting and scheduling, and ultimately constructing a project. The course is led by volunteer industry professionals and Anderson said all mentors complete a training and background check prior to working with the students.
“We hope to be able to recruit additional volunteers and mentors in order to continue to grow to other schools in the Upstate area,” Anderson said. “We specifically named the affiliate the ‘Upstate’ affiliate with the hopes of eventually expanding to the cities and counties surrounding the Greenville area, such as Spartanburg and Clemson.”
Next High School was selected for the initial program because it is a school “with goals that align with the ACE Program, to prepare students through real life experiences,” Anderson said.
Anderson created the Upstate chapter along with architects Helen Byce and Mel Middleton, both of LS3P Architects Ltd., an architecture and planning services firm in Greenville.
Byce said she is excited about the group’s potential impact.
“ACE has a long tradition of uplifting and promoting the architecture, engineering, and construction industries,” she said. “Engaging youth in these industries encourages a long-term investment in their personal and professional development. This program also allows LS3P and Turner Construction to continue our firms’ mutual goal of active community involvement.”
Anderson said since the program is a startup affiliate, there are a number of opportunities for donations and sponsorships, from both individuals and companies. Being a nonprofit, donations go toward operation and insurance costs to ensure that the program is free for all students and mentors, Anderson said.
“Once the program is established, scholarships will be offered to outstanding students who decide to attend college and major in an architecture, construction or engineering field,” she said.
ACE has 67 affiliates in 36 states. More than 2,000 mentors deliver content and lead hands-on educational projects for nearly 8,000 students. For more information go to www.acementor.org.
Reach Teresa Cutlip at 864-235-5677, ext. 103, or @SCBizTeresa on Twitter.