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October 14, 2016

DDC Women Professionals Share Architecture and Engineering Expertise With Female Middle and High School Students

NYC Department of Design and Construction and the Lower East Side Girls Club Host “Introduce A Girl to Architecture, Engineering and Construction Day” 

Four employees from DDC, DOT and Yeshiva University performing the ceromonial groundbreaking
DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora (center) joins public middle school and high school students as they showcase their building models at “Introduce a Girl to Architecture, Engineering and Construction Day”

Shavone Williams 
Public Information Officer 

New York, NY –  Approximately 30 public middle school and high school students participated in “Introduce a Girl to Architecture, Engineering and Construction Day” this week, hosted by the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the Lower East Side Girls Club.  The event, held October 12th at the Girls Club headquarters on Avenue D, was designed to promote science, technology, engineering, architecture/art and mathematics (STEAM) related disciplines to young women and raise their awareness of career opportunities in STEAM fields.

DDC’s STEAM division facilitated two educational workshops in which the girls learned how to use an architect’s scale in order to draw blueprints and then constructed scale models of various public buildings. The students also focused on designing the interiors of public buildings, such as police precincts, an EMS station, and a library using concept and material boards.

Two students using an architect’s scale to draw blueprints of public buildings
Two students using an architect’s scale to draw blueprints of public buildings

After the workshops, the students attended a panel discussion with four female DDC architecture and engineering professionals: Starlene Scott, Acting Director of the “Build it Back” program; Lucy Wong, Police Unit Program Director; Jade Bailey, Project Manager of Public Buildings; Alanna Soszynski-Lauter Project Manager Intern of Public Buildings. They joined former STEAM High School Intern Michelle Asim, who is currently a College Aide in the DDC Budget and Finance division, in sharing the personal experiences of how they began their careers, and gave the students empowering advice on how to persevere and pursue their dreams in the traditionally male-dominated STEAM fields.

“The percentage of women who pursue careers in architecture and engineering are disproportionally lower than their representation in our communities,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “Through this program, we want to demystify those careers, pique the interest of students, and let them know that opportunities are out there for them regardless of their gender or ethnicity. Hopefully, in the future, some of these students may come back and work at DDC.”

“STEAM careers are the jobs of the future and young women need to be prepared if they are to succeed and compete in the 21st century global economy,” said DDC Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives Deputy Commissioner Lee Llambelis. “Educating girls in the STEAM professions will put them on a path to success.”

“I’ve been fortunate to work closely with DDC STEAM division to give a new knowledge base to the students here. DDC’s STEAM program explains the importance of city planning, infrastructure and civil engineering as how it affects them every day. These skills can be applied to other facets of their education and possibly a career choice if it sparks their interest,” said Lower East Side Girls Club’s Assistant Director of Technology, Lauren Vargas.

“I feel inspired to follow my passion from attending today’s event. Architecture is a male-dominated field, so I never thought I would meet women who are great architects, who also enjoy the field at the same time,” said 16 year old Jiayun Chen, a student at Brooklyn Technical High School.

DDC STEAM started in 2014, to establish a diverse and inclusive pipeline for New York City's youth to engage in the architecture, construction, and engineering industries. The division is also hosting an afterschool program twice a week at the Lower East Side Girls Club with middle school students. 

On Thursday, October 27, students in the afterschool program will showcase what they’ve learned from the “Engineering is Elementary: Don’t Runoff” curriculum, created by the Museum of Science in Boston. The curriculum highlights environmentally conscious design, the importance of circumventing pollution and methods to prevent polluted storm water from reaching natural sources of water in the City. 

Additional photos from “Introduce A Girl to Architecture, Engineering and Construction Day” can be found here, courtesy of NYC DDC.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit