Architect Cara Wessel and interior designer Abby Cridland share about their experience volunteering with the ACE Mentor Program. The firm annually sponsors and enables staff to participate in this architecture industry mentorship as part of our Hennebery Eddy Gives program.
Cara (standing left) explains architectural design concepts to students during a mentor session in the Hennebery Eddy office.
Describe how the ACE program works.
Cara: ACE is an after-school program for high school students interested in Architecture, Construction and Engineering. Students are placed on teams and collaborate on a building design project under the mentorship of industry professionals from each of the three disciplines. Over the course of 12 meetings, the students learn about different phases of design through presentations, hands-on activities, and construction site visits. The mentors guide the students to complete their design project and present it at the end-of-year program.
Abby: These students are from all over the Portland metro area and are grouped together to create their own project. I even had a student who traveled from Jefferson County — that’s almost a three-hour drive! Each ACE session is hosted at a mentor’s office. This gives students a sense of not only how we work but were we work, helping make what they are learning more real.
What was your goal for the students in ACE?
Cara: I wanted to inspire the students and demonstrate the immense impact they can have on the built environment and the surrounding community.
Abby: My goal was to teach them about teamwork and communication: how it’s not up to a single person or discipline to make all of the decisions for a project, and all of the disciplines have to communicate for a project to be successful. I also wanted to teach the students there are multiple avenues in the ACE industry. I am the only interior designer in the ACE Mentor Program, so I show students how important it is to look at the interior of the building, the psychology of space, and different design principles to make building users comfortable.