May 9, 2018
Twenty two students from Brooklyn Generation High School visited the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) on Wednesday for the annual “Meet the Builders” event, which featured lessons in engineering and discussions with DDC professionals who work on public buildings and infrastructure projects throughout the City.
Breaking out into groups of four, the students completed a “Rapid Engineering” challenge designed to encourage teamwork, critical thinking, and communication. The attendees competed to build the strongest tower using just plastic straws, disposable coffee cups, tape, and putty.
The students then had an opportunity to engage in a panel discussion with four DDC professionals to learn about projects they have worked on and how they’ve achieved their career goals. The professionals offered advice on how the students could pursue similar career tracks, and spoke about the challenges and rewards they could expect along the way.
“There are plenty of opportunities in the STEAM fields and the DDC strongly encourages students who participated today to consider careers in engineering, design, and architecture,” said DDC Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio. “The Meet the Builders program and our STEAM initiative continues to be one of our strongest ways of exposing youth to opportunities in design and construction they might not have ever considered.”
“It is important for young people to see people like themselves succeeding in the workforce. This program offers students the opportunity to understand the possibilities that exist for them. Educating our young people in the STEAM professions will put them on a path to success because STEAM careers are the jobs of the future. If they are going to compete in a global 21st-century economy, they need to be prepared and they need to start their journey to success early. We’re thrilled to be a part of that journey,” said DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis.
“I love taking young people to the DDC because they get the opportunity to see people who look like them doing interesting work in architecture and engineering, and that in itself is encouraging,” said Claude Aska, East Coast Director of Generation Schools Network. “This is a fantastic event. I love it when we see the bulbs go off in our students’ minds! You’re never going to hear about these professions and opportunities on twitter or Instagram, but you can have a great career in design and construction and the Meet the Builders program proves it.”
The four DDC professionals who met with the students were Starling Keene, Deputy Director of Architecture in DDC’s Public Buildings division; Jorge Tua, a Director of Infrastructure Design; Ashwani Bedi, Deputy Director of Engineering in Public Buildings; and Barry Vanterpool, Director in the DDC’s Budget Department.
The “Meet the Builders” event was organized by the DDC’s STEAM Education Initiative. The STEAM initiative was created to establish a diverse and inclusive pipeline for New York City's youth to engage in the architecture, construction, and engineering industries. STEAM programs for students grade 6 - 12 include the Young Engineers Program and the ACE Mentor Program. STEAM also offers high school and college summer internships. DDC STEAM has served more than 2,430 students since its inception in 2014.