H2M architects + engineers recently wrapped up another successful year of the ACE Mentor Program. The ACE program, which was founded 20 years ago, helps to mentor high school students and encourages them to pursue careers in architecture, construction and engineering.
During the last six months, H2M mentored a group of Long Island high school students. H2M’s was one of 35 student teams in New York State and the only team in Suffolk County. Meeting every other week, the team designed a modular housing development with a focus on sustainability.
“For the mentors, this is a unique chance to get back to the basics and focus on the areas of our field that we are really passionate about,” Staff Architect Katie McMahon said. “The opportunity to engage with these students and help them to apply their enthusiasm to real world ventures is a rewarding and enjoyable experience.”
This year’s project aimed to provide a solution to the issue of housing options on Long Island. The students looked at existing housing types, analyzing the pros and cons of each. Their approach was to design for the various stages of life, understanding that younger generations and senior citizens lack access to the housing that suits their needs.
Using a three-fold approach—affordability, flexibility and sustainability—the team decided that modular construction would be the best fit, as it is affordable, adaptable and inherently sustainable. The students designed several housing prototypes, creating drawings, three-dimensional models, diagrams and a narrative to convey their designs.
“It is exciting and invigorating to see the development of the kids in the program and how they develop and mature through the project,” Senior Architect Danny Tanzi said. “Personally, sharing our experience and knowledge with the kids reaffirms the importance of our respective professions in society.”
The team presented their final project at an event in New York City, winning over $6,000 in awarded scholarships.
“I went into the ACE Mentor Program unsure if I wanted to study civil engineering or architecture in college,” said Stephanie Costello, a former ACE student and current H2M intern. “The program gave me a clearer understanding of the differences in the branches of engineering and architecture and how all of them work together, and I was able to decide what wanted to study in college.”