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Second Year of ACE Summer Career Experience & Internship Program Shows Evolution

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

The mission of ACE Mentor Cleveland program is to develop architecture, construction, and engineering career pathways for students. With that in mind, executive director Glen Shumate continues to seek enriching experiences for participants. ACE Mentor Cleveland provides the ACE Summer Career Experience, an opportunity for high school seniors and college students to be immersed in the world of architecture, construction, and engineering.

Cleveland Builds, National Association of Minority Architects, National Society of Black Engineers, Contractors Assistance Association, MyCom, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Turner Construction Company and the National Basketball Association Foundation provided financial support for the program. The ACE Summer Experience & Internship Program ran for six weeks and included sustainability related education, career/professional development, placement with an employer and for most participants a paid stipend totaling $3,000+.

Last year’s participants developed a concept to transform two vacant lots, located in Midtown, into a dog park. But, this year, the project got a little bigger, more complicated as this cohort were required to respond to a request from Cleveland City Councilwoman Stephanie Howse (a Florida Agricultural & Mining University Civil Engineering graduate) for proposal (RFP) challenging them to reimagine The Cleveland Public Library Hough Branch, located on Crawford Road, in Cleveland’s Ward.

“It’s an intentional and meaningful opportunity for us to engage students,” says Shumate.

On July 29, during the culmination event at Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus, the students presented their concept to members of Cleveland’s ACE community. To kick off the program, last year’s participants (now college sophomores) Abran Rogel, Gregory George III, and Abigail Mondragon provided a quick overview of their project.

“It’s a different mindset working as an outgoing college freshman,” said Gregory George, who attends Kent State University where he majors in architecture. Greg was also able to intern with Snavely Construction this summer.

Rogel also attends Kent State University, majoring in architecture, and Mondragon is majoring in civil engineering at Case Western Reserve University. She credits the ACE Mentor program for developing her passion for civil engineering and mentioned how she became known as the “sustainability girl” among her cohort. Abigail, also interned with Turner Construction this summer. Turner Construction supported 6 local ACE Mentor students with internship and shadowing experiences this summer.

Helen Graham, an engineer at Langan and 6-year ACE mentor, whose role is to help MidTown Cleveland realize the students’ vision for the space, provided an update on the project. She said it has been presented to the Euclid Corridor design review and planning commission while an arborist is evaluating the trees on the lot.

“I think this project is a great example of ACE impact on the community,” said Graham. “Projects like this can really make a difference.”

Consulting engineering Rich Iafelice, CT Consultants, created the RFP for this year’s project. Built in 1984, the Hough Branch Library had constraints. The students had to look at adaptive reuse, consider resources needed to design and build then develop a concept and rendering.

Iafelice believes the ACE Summer Experience is transforming the way students are encouraged to consider these professions. “This program is a great way to do it,” he said.

In addition to the three returning college sophomores (George Mondragon and Rogel), five other students worked on this year’s project are Carlise Brown, Jalen Grady, E’laycia Linder, Kevin Rivera and Corea Tate. Rivera and Tate are ACE Mentor Scholarship winners entering college this fall, while the others are rising high school seniors.

During the presentation of their concept, Linder explained, to find inspiration, they started with research. They learned that Hough is one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods. She also said they spoke to residents and tried to incorporate those ideas. As a result, they decided to transform the parking lot into green space.

“We’ve created a space where you can kick back and relax,” she said.

Grady described their concept as “an intimate space for people to get to know the neighborhood” and talked about how they also wanted to monetize it to generate income for the community. Tate, who worked on the interior design, said they wanted it to tie in mental and physical health. With that, the concept for the inside of the building includes gallery space, an art studio, and gift shop/snack bar.

“We want to change the narrative and improve the environment,” said Grady. “We wanted to create a secure, fun space.”

Rivera, who will be majoring in mechanical engineering at University of Akron, provided a glimpse into the cohort’s brainstorming process and how they sought inspiration at Edgewater Park and Wade Oval. That sparked the idea for an amphitheater. And, taking the environment into consideration, they also proposed including a bioretention basin.

“It’s a place where people can come together and have fun,” Rivera said.

The estimated cost of their proposal is $810,000, not including computer and studio equipment.

“It’s great to see the next generations of leaders,” said John Lang, COO at Cleveland Public Library.

During the 6-week program, the students took the Dale Carnegie Training - Skills for Success course focused on five key areas of development: self-confidence, communication skills, interpersonal skills, leadership, and controlling stress. This course provides two college credit hours.

“I believe that this program is worth the investment and, though uncomfortable, provides lifelong value, along with their Clifton Strengths evaluations,” says Jeanne Weidt of Dale Carnegie.

Weidt also presented the highest award of achievement to Grady.

Alisia Grady, Jalan’s mother, said he went into this program not completely sure if he wanted to study engineering or architecture after high school. And, that uncertainty caused a lack of confidence.

“The Dale Carnegie program along with relevant hands-on experience has really allowed him to face his fears and embrace his imperfections which boosted his confidence,” she said. “I would like to thank his mentor Alaina for being so welcoming, Glen, for his generosity and helping with the student’s development, and all of the ACE members. We look forward to returning next year.”

Leonara Jackson, mother of E’laycia Linder, said the program provided her daughter with more knowledge of her interests, architecture and engineering, and an opportunity to interact. She also said the students did an excellent job on their presentations.

“I love the program a lot,” says Jackson. “I hope they continue it.”

For more information, visit or contact Glen Shumate, ACE Mentor Cleveland, Executive Director at

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