ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland held its annual fall luncheon on Nov. 3 at Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus. ACE students from John Hay High School and Warrensville High School, who were being recognized for winning last school year’s ACE Mentor Presentation Nights, as well as mentors, board members, and supporters were in attendance.
The event consisted of networking, a few brief presentations and a keynote address by Neil Wiess, executive vice president/chief information officer and ballpark operations. ACE Cleveland alum Gregory George provided a few remarks before introducing Weiss.
“It’s been an interesting journey. Relationships and ACE scholarships have helped with my career pathway,” said George, an national ACE CMiC Scholarship Winner and sophomore studying architecture at Kent State University who recently connected with Moody Nolan.
“There’s great jobs everywhere throughout our ACE industry,” said Joe DiGeronimo, vice president Precision Environment Company and member of ACE Cleveland board of directors.
The highlight of the event came when American Institute of Architects (AIA) Cleveland Chapter Chair Allison Love Lukacsy presented ACE with a ten-thousand-dollar check, from funds raised during their annual Sandfest competition held this past summer at Edgewater Park. It’s the largest donation they’ve made to ACE Cleveland’s scholarship fund.
“We’re super grateful for the opportunity and appreciative of the partnership,” said Lukacsy.
Matt Danis, vice president of Shook Construction and ACE Cleveland board chair said industry partnerships like the one enjoyed with AIA are one of ACE Cleveland’s greatest strengths as an organization. “We are so grateful for the continued support of this local industry leader,” he said.
With Weiss providing the keynote address, the Guardians’ postseason excitement continued at the ACE Fall luncheon.
Weiss presented the ballpark improvement timeline and discussed the organization’s community benefits agreement. Weiss also said the ballpark improvement project, conducted over the next two and a half years, provides potential exposure opportunities such as shadowing and construction tours for ACE students.
“These are relatively easy to do,” said Weiss.
He also sees opportunities for The Guardians internal and external teams to be a resource and provide feedback to ACE students during presentations. And, although game day seasonal jobs are not necessarily related to the ACE industry, Weiss thinks the opportunity for ACE students to be immersed in the environment and learn about the facilities can be a great experience.
“They can be a network and learn,” said Weiss, who sees ACE Cleveland as a valuable program in this community.
“One thing that has been made clear to me while working on this project is there’s not enough Cleveland students in these careers,” said Weiss.
“The pipeline is not full. We need more students going into these careers. We need to develop opportunities for these students to understand these are viable careers.”
And, Weiss sees the ballpark improvement project as a chance for ACE students to make these career pathway connections. “It’s a great live sample for showing students how what they’ve learned can be delivered through a project.”
Glen Shumate, ACE Cleveland executive director, is hoping the Guardians’ $220 million-dollar ballpark improvement project, with set asides for Blacks, females and Hispanics, can be a ‘home run’ for both minority contractors and ACE students.
“It’s a chance for students to be immersed and engaged. We already have an intern that will work there,” said Shumate.
And, while speaking to students individually, it also became clear that the ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland is relevant to them.
Jerielo Bernard, an 11th grader at John Hay, has participated in the ACE Cleveland for two years. He wants to be an engineer, something he thought about before getting involved with ACE but has started to take it more seriously.
One thing he enjoys most is the experience gained from working on projects.
“I like how you come up with ideas to make it better,” he says, “and collaborating with my peers.”
Warrensville Tai’Jon Evans, a senior, started participating in ACE during the 9th grade. He got involved because he always wanted to be an engineer. His dad works in construction. “It has affirmed that engineering is what I want to do,” says Evans.