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Who will be our next generation of 'Who's Who in Construction & Engineering'?

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The Department of Labor projects 1 million job vacancies in the design, engineering and construction industry by the year 2010. Will we have enough architects, construction managers and engineers to fill our industry's need when we baby boomers retire? The San Diego chapter of the ACE Mentor Program is working hard to make sure there will be.

The brainchild of Charles Thornton of Thornton-Thomasetti/Engineers, New York, ACE (Career Directions for Students in Architecture, Construction and Engineering) took root in 1991, when a group of design and construction industry and academic leaders in the New York metropolitan area became aware of declining enrollments in professional schools and universities with architecture, engineering and construction management programs. The program has since been adopted in 64 cities, including San Diego.

The San Diego chapter of ACE was formed under the leadership of Rick Vogel, a principal with Hines, a real estate development, investment and management company. Relocating overseas earlier this year, Vogel handed the reins over to Alan Petrasek of Clark Construction. Rounding off the 13 ACE Board members are principals from Austin Veum Robbins Partners, Carrier Johnson, Carter Reese & Associates, Clark Construction, Considine & Considine, Hope Engineering, Latham & Watkins, The NewSchool of Architecture, San Diego State University, Swinerton Builders, TKG Engineering, Wallace Roberts & Todd and Westberg & White Inc. To date, over 50 mentors and 20 firms are involved in the San Diego chapter.

Last year, firms formed teams and adopted three groups from a total of 60 students from San Diego, Otay Ranch, Kearny and EastLake high schools.

The teams mirrored real-life design/construction projects, working closely with the students to develop challenging and realistic projects, which they presented at the inaugural ACE Banquet earlier this year.

Through the generosity of numerous firms and individuals, over $40,000 was raised, enabling the selection of eight students, each to receive $1,000 college scholarships.

Additionally, the NewSchool of Architecture made a commitment -- an extra incentive for ACE students to stay with the program -- to award a full five-year scholarship at the NewSchool, on an annual basis.

The students have begun the process of developing business relationships with mentors, opening the possibility to future employment opportunities. In return, our industry gets a much-needed boost of new talent. With the ACE San Diego Chapter firmly taking root, the future of our industry looks promising.

So the answer to "Who's Who" may be influenced by you. Become a sponsor -- a scholarship can be set up in your corporation's name. Volunteer a mentor from your company. In 2010, you just might read about a student you influenced in the next generation's "Who's Who."

For more information regarding ACE, log on to www.acementor.org or contact Charles Hope at (619) 232-4673.

Submitted by Charles B. Hope Jr. for Hope Engineering

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