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Madison Metropolitan School District

Mentor Program Builds Student Futures in Architecture, Construction, Engineering Fields

Mentor Program Builds Student Futures in Architecture, Construction, Engineering Fields

A partnership between Vel Phillips Memorial High School and ACE Mentor of Wisconsin is creating the blueprint for student success in the architecture, construction, and engineering fields. Now in its second year, the ACE Mentorship program builds up students’ professional experience with mentorships, internships, and – for the first time – scholarships.

Memorial seniors Lila Hadfield, Aliena Sakk, and Fred Speidel each earned a $5,000 scholarship for participating in the program the last two years, which included weekly meetings with industry leaders, guest speakers, and a team final design project. 

Sakk said she was excited and proud to receive the scholarship, which she will apply to her studies in aerospace engineering at Iowa State University this fall. Sakk’s participation in the ACE Mentorship also led her to internships with Affiliated Engineers, Inc.

“I think ACE Mentorship is really useful for college or a career in the ‘real world.’ I feel like I’m a step ahead of other people my age,” Sakk said. “You meet so many mentors, and it’s super helpful to learn about their jobs and the steps they took to get there.”

The final design project gave students the chance to play the professional. Tasked with creating a detailed design for the Nolan Waterfront Development at Olin Park, students split into teams based on job specialties, and worked together to develop every step of the process. 

More than 20 students pitched the final design to dozens of ACE professionals at the Element Lab at University Research Park in April. Not a single detail was left out: factors including soil quality, structural weight restrictions on proposed sledding hills, and cold weather piping systems were all discussed by students.

“The project was realistic to what working in the real profession would be, working with multiple teams to achieve the same end goal,” Sakk said. “It was a lot of work and presenting was intimidating, but it really paid off. I’m excited to see what’s next for me in engineering.”