ACE Mentorship Program Kicks Off 2020-2021 Season

Screenshot from virtual ACE Mentor Session

In 2020, SMMA mentored five groups of high school students representing the fields of Architecture/Interior Design, Mechanical Engineering/Electrical Engineering/Plumbing, Structural Engineering, Construction Management, and Site Design/Civil Engineering. Since 2007, SMMA has been one of several firms in the Greater Boston Area that participates annually to promote STEM education and guide the next generation of architects and engineers.

Despite current conditions, we kicked off the 2020-2021 ACE Mentor Program season in October with 163 high school students ranging from Freshman to Seniors, all from various schools in the greater Boston area, and 95 mentors. The SMMA team consists of 32 students and 21 mentors, and this year will focus on Residential Design to allow students to be creative in a "work from home" world. The base program was flexible between the teams, so we left it up to the students' vote. Our group selected to design rowhouses, equipped with solar panels and electric vehicle charging ports, as well as ample community space, including a rooftop garden, fitness center, and a multi-purpose room.

We made two very distinct changes to the program this year that has made it possible. Instead of the traditional method of splitting students and mentors into physical site locations, we decided to host five separate weekly virtual sessions to allow for some flexibility. We prepared the group activities in advance, allowing us the opportunity to mail students "Care Packages" consisting of all the supplies that typically would have been provided (notepads, scales, pens, Legos, etc.). Thus far, our students have participated in activities ranging from planning, where they created floorplans for the bedrooms or other home spaces, to structural engineering and construction management-related exercises.

We are grateful that we have the tools and modes for collaboration to continue our tradition of participating in the ACE program and are excited to see how our students grow and create over the course of the remaining months.