ACE Mentor Program Encourages Future Architects, Designers

The ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Cambridge and Boston Mentor Program recently wrapped up another successful year of teaching and, ideally, instilling passion for design and building in talented high school students. The group of nine from the Community Charter School of Cambridge is diverse by background, age and interests. The mentor group is comprised of architects, landscape architects and engineers from SMMA and several other firms. The annual program begins in November with a selection of the participants, and meets weekly at SMMA until the middle of March. The two Boston team meetings are held at the Boston Architectural College and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

The project is agreed upon early in the cycle, and throughout the twelve weeks the students learn what it is like to be in the role of architect, landscape architect, engineer or construction manager. The volunteer mentors are there to help but the students collaborate among themselves to arrive at a design that is both feasible and presentable, because at the end of the process they share their design decisions in a presentation format to their peers, friends and family as well as a panel made up of guest volunteer professionals. This year’s project was a complete re-imagining of the exterior spaces of the P.J. Kennedy School in East Boston, with a reconfigured basketball court, soccer field, outdoor classrooms, parking lot and a playground for toddlers.

The culmination of the ACE process is the group’s presentation event at Wentworth Institute of Technology which celebrates the students’ achievements and hands out scholarships (totaling $30,000, this year), money that comes from fundraising events held on behalf of the group.