Fluor Partner Profile: From Classroom to Construction
Imagine a raindrop falling over the United States Continental Divide. The slightest push of wind can send that raindrop in completely different directions, to either the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. High school students are similar; sometimes all they need is a little exposure and encouragement to completely change their life trajectories.
This is the goal of the Houston Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentoring Program, a collaborative effort designed to bring the construction industry, educational institutions and local community together to expose high school students to the worlds of architecture, construction, engineering and the building trades through design projects.
Fluor’s Sugar Land office is the newest host location for the Houston ACE program, bringing together 30 students from 10 high schools throughout Fort Bend County. During the program, student teams work directly with professionals from the architecture, engineering and construction industries to design hypothetical projects, tour construction sites and visit offices.
“Not only do the mentors help students complete real design projects and drawings, but they discuss what it takes to become an architect or engineer and tips on navigating through college or trade school,” said Steven Polansky, Project Controls specialist and ACE mentor. “Most of the students are gearing up for college, but aren’t sure about what they want to do or even what their options are. Mentors can help them get an understanding of what career options they want for themselves and how to achieve it.”
Students meet on a weekly basis and have the opportunity to develop a technical and commercial response to one of three requests for proposals for a fictional client. Industry mentors teach basic concepts on everything from foundation design to scheduling. At the end of the school year, students can choose to submit their proposal response to a national competition in Washington, D.C., or in a city-wide competition. This year, students could choose from one of three projects: design a solution for a modular, expandable home, redesign an inner-city school or revitalize an urban block.
Two Fluor-mentored teams participated in a city-wide competition - one showcased its design for a modular, expandable home and the other presented its concept on inner-city school rehabilitation. One Fluor team made it to the competition finals out of 40 total teams, which put them in the top five teams in all of Houston. The team’s concept of a flexible, modular home was inspired by a shape found in nature, a honeycomb.
The ACE program ran from October 2017 to May 2018. Ten employee volunteers met with their teams weekly to help mentor and develop design projects, giving nearly 600 hours of volunteer time.
To learn more about the ACE Mentor Program, visit acementor.org for more information.