Firms Extend ACE Mentor Student Links to Expand Industry Talent Pool

Johanna Knapschaefer and Debra K. Rubin, ENR

The ACE Mentor program is rallying AEC firm support for a new effort to ensure that more industry-underrepresented engineering and construction students in college level programs earn degrees and start industry careers. Academic data show that just 10% earned degrees, on average, with just 50% doing so at some universities in the best-case scenarios.

Begun in January, the ACE Mentor Transformative Partners Task Force seeks to extend industry mentoring, internships and other links to underrepresented college students “who comprise almost 70% of our scholarship recipients,” says Tom Laird, CEO of Gilbane Building Co., one of nine founding firms.

About 70% of ACE participants are students of color and 40% are women, says Mortenson CEO Dan Johnson. People of color now make up less than 10% of construction sector employees, and women less than 16.5%, he says.

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