In the following article, WHSAD students, past and present share their experiences in the ACE Mentorship Program.
Chandler Mclaurin, WHSAD Graduate 2020
ACE has made a significant impact on me and my future career of being an architect. I am truly thankful for my teachers and counselor who recommended ACE. I am forever grateful for the experience and opportunity. To start, I did ACE throughout my four years of WHSAD. In freshman year, I was on team 3 at Ted Moudis Associates Architecture firm. During my sophomore year up until senior I transitioned over to team 6 working with Gensler Architecture firm.
ACE has given me a different perspective of architecture and introduced me to a new field of design, which is acoustics. Acoustics is a branch of physics that deals with the study of mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids, including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound, and infrasound. Overall, ACE has given me the chance to be exposed to many different fields of design whether its MEP, (Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing) Acoustics, Architecture, Structural, Landscape and much more. With this exposure ACE has allowed me to test my abilities in Architecture, broaden my horizons, and taught me many ways on how to be successful. Throughout my four years of participation within the Ace Mentorship program, I worked on countless architectural design projects. One of my favorite projects I ever did was create my own futuristic bus stop for the community of Dumbo, which is located in Brooklyn NY. The fascination of seeing your idea start from a simple brainstorm and the excitement of watching a design you created come alive right before your eyes is a feeling unimaginable. In the end, I was able to present my idea to other ACE teams around New York. Another project I worked where my group and I were assigned to work on the Acoustics portion of the design. There I mainly focused on the sound aspect of our potential community center located in RedHook NY. One important aspect of my mentorship program that I shouldn’t forget to mention is their willingness to help and give back to the community in any way possible. Before we settled on creating a community center, we had the option to design disaster relief housing in third wheel countries, health centers etc. Basically, anything that we wanted to design that would benefit and bring up the community for the betterment of the residents and surrounding public.
Having an mentorship at an Architecture firm taught me so much about the professional environment. For starters, it taught me how to present myself when I am conferencing with different executives about a project and how to carry myself in a professional environment, from attire to people skills. I developed some hard skills like the nuances of AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup and other computer softwares such as Rhino. Now that I graduated from high school, I am a certified AutoDesk User, specifically in AutoCAD, and I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t participate in ACE. This is something that is extremely important that I added under my belt and a skill that not many teenagers my age have. A soft skill I learned was collaboration, something really crucial in a work environment. Collaboration really deals with the saying that there is no I in Team. I learned how to collaborate with my peers and mentors at the firm to complete weekly project tasks. Accepting peer feedback is another skill that is truly hard to learn, but I was able to do it, and I will carry this skill for the rest of my life at any job I come across, whether it’s an architecture firm or not.
Being granted this experience has opened many doors for me so far for success. Since I graduated from ACE, completing all four years, I am now part of the alumni. What that means is I will be given different opportunities that come across such as new internships at a different firm or jobs. I was also a recipient of a $14,000 scholarship from ACE to start my education at Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. Currently, I am taking Visual Literacy studio classes, where I am furthering my knowledge on the study of architecture. This class is literally the foundation of taking my designs a step further. So far, we have been creating physical models, and working 3D in Rhino. Already I have designed a pavilion from , and laser printed a 3D object I created from one of my Overlayed figures I designed. I would definitely recommend the ACE mentorship program to any student, at WHSAD. I suggest you start from Freshman yeast, so you van have the opportunities I had, and still be granted by my participation and willingness to learn. I know this saying has constantly been repeated, but kindness goes a long way. Sometimes it’s not all about what you know either, it’s about who you know. Out of all the mentors I know who were very kind, and nice. To this day, I still keep in touch with my mentors who I had since day one, Sara Silvestri at Gensler Architecture Firm, and Alice Franklin from Turner Construction.
Matthew Zaczeniuk, WHSAD Sophomore
The Ace Mentorship Program has been an amazing experience so far, even in the limited world that we are living in right now. The blockade of a screen has not stopped me from creating great connections with my peers and mentors, and having a good time in the weekly meetings. The Gensler team has done their best and have provided us with a great portal to connect and interact with other students and create a great online learning environment. During my time I have learned a considerable amount about architecture and engineering, and more specifically the ins and outs of constructing a quality building or working space. I think it was really cool seeing how acoustic engineering is used to help design quieter and more pleasant buildings. It was very interesting learning how different materials affect how sound travels through a space and how different equipment can affect how noisy a building is. We also learned about the basics of constructing a home. For example, what are the different steps, and what effective scheduling tactics are used in the construction business. We examined a specific way of scheduling using a Gantt chart, which lists all parts of a project in measurable lines that stretch from start date to date of predicted completion. A Gantt chart is very often used in the construction of a building because it shows all elements of construction and how each element can affect the completion of other elements and subsequently the entire project.
Recently, all the teams have started working on a very interesting project. We are all working together in our separate teams to try and design a homeless relief shelter in Harlem. We have learned about the early design stages and how it is imperative to know what a building is used for and how it will function. Since then we have executed those plans and have created a working floorplan and are moving forward to try and incorporate a modern design, the reason being most new buildings in the surrounding area have also followed in this direction and we feel that creating a modern design will breathe new life into the community. The Ace Mentorship program has been very fun and engaging even in our virtual world and I can’t wait to see how our project will progress.
The Ace Mentorship program has been a great learning experience and has come with advantageous opportunities. It provides scholarships that can be very helpful for the future. By going to the Ace Mentorship program for all four years, you are eligible to receive a scholarship from the program. This can be very useful if or when someone decides to go to a college or university after high school. I think that this program is a no brainer; The program is super fun and engaging and you have a great opportunity to learn about engineering or architecture, depending on what team you choose. The program is also once a week, and you get scholarship opportunities, what’s not to like?
Mathew Luciano, WHSAD Senior
I’ve been an ACE Mentee since my freshman year. So four years have passed and I’ve never regretted being a member. Team 6 is the Gensler Office which is located on 7th Avenue & 59th Street, about 4 blocks away from Times Square. The program is every Wednesday from November to May. At the end of every year, the program ends with a presentation conference of the project we worked on for the year.
For my freshman year, my team and I worked on building a disaster relief shelter for a town in Colombia that suffered from mudslides. During my sophomore year, we worked on creating a recreational center in Red Hook. For my junior year, we worked on creating a bus stop near a park in Manhattan. Now, for my senior year, we are working on a project for building a homeless shelter.
The benefits of being a member are the scholarships and internships, but the most beneficial part is the experience. All the skills I’ve learned really pay off. I’ve made many connections by meeting my mentors. They’ve taught me how everything in a building works and its protocols. I’ve learned about project siting, acoustics, engineering, MEP Design, structural design, and construction management. For the scholarship part, it’s beneficial that you attend all four years because it shows commitment and interest. I currently applied for one of the scholarships and received a letter of recommendation from the main mentor group leader Sara. The reason she wrote my recommendation is that she has seen the progress and commitment I’ve made to Team 6 since freshman year. The connections I’ve made can even benefit me in the future such as job positions.
The ACE Mentorship Program is one of the gateways to amazing future opportunities. I would definitely recommend this program. There are lots of teams in this program but Team 6 is always going to be like my family. Maybe one day I can be a mentor in the future and teach future members what I’ve learned and advance their program curriculum. As for right now I just need to continue my hard work and show everybody the same potential I’ve been showing for the last four years and expand for more opportunities.
Kevin Garcia, WHSAD Sophomore
The ACE Mentor Program, a not-for-profit organization, helps prepare high school students for their architectural careers through industry professional mentorships. Young adults all over New York City participate in this gateway of opportunities. In my team, team 6, we have students from Brooklyn Tech to yours truly WHSAD. We work with mentors from all over the city from firms like Gensler, JB&B, Turner, GMS, and Cerami. Each one of these companies composes the body parts of architecture. We have great collaboration with our mentors, from group discussions to one-on-one conferences, which are great and get us ready and motivated to be one of these “body parts”.
Usually every session we have, we are divided into groups, and in these groups, we receive a lesson on which the challenge/competition of the day is going to be based, from structural strength and weaknesses to wiring and plumbing. Due to Covid-19, this year has been different from last year, such as now we are working from home with limited tools and resources. All of this is different, working with a computer in front of my face compared to working hands with a project. I’m missing that one on one conversation I’m used to with my mentor. Lately, I’ve been working with others but even in the midst of this pandemic, ACE has stood strong and helped us young architects get ready for next year and the years to come. They have found a way to switch and adapt to this new life, to help us stay strong, and to keep our hopes and dreams the same way they were before the pandemic. Connecting with my mentor and peers, I’ve noticed that even if there are obstacles in our way, we can work together.
At the beginning of ACE, mentors taught us what their daily lives looked like when working in the office environment as opposed to working from home. Then we started work on a project based on building a homeless shelter. We chose this out of every other offer we had because we as architects in the making want to make a change, a difference, and an impact in those homeless people’s lives. In stage one, my group and I researched the site, which is located on Amsterdam Ave & W 163rd St. We took images and analyzed the site from its environment and the effect it would have on this community. During stage two, we have made different models of what we want the site to look like in order to organize each room and place doors and entrances. We managed to combine each one of our ideas into one.