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May 2, 2017

DDC Introduces Brooklyn High School Students to Architecture, Engineering and Construction

Dan Leibel

Brooklyn, NY - Thirty-five female students from the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design and the Robert F. Wagner Jr. Secondary School for Arts and Technology took part last week in “Introduce a Girl to Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Day,” organized by the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s STEAM education division. This fourth iteration of the DDC event was developed to promote science, technology, engineering, architecture/art, and mathematics as disciplines for young women to study and consider futures careers in.

The event at the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design incorporated lessons about networking and collaboration, and featured a panel of female professionals from the public buildings and infrastructure units at DDC. Staff members spoke to the students about their experiences in industry, and the importance of education, analysis, and professional development. The students also participated in mock interviews during the day to prepare for future internship and job opportunities.

“It’s vital to expose young women to careers they may have not considered, or which they were led to believe were only for men,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “DDC’s STEAM division empowers New York City youth by introducing ideas and opportunities that exist in the world of design and construction, educating girls about STEAM disciplines. Together we expand young people’s prospects, helping to diversify our workforce and broaden the pool of ideas that influence our built environment.”

Currently, according to the National Science Foundation, women comprise only 34 percent of professionals with doctorates in the field of engineering. Additionally, males are eight times more likely to enter college with a plan to study engineering than their female peers, according to the Higher Education Research Institute.

DDC staff who addressed the students included Starlene Scott, Acting Director in the Public Buildings unit; Jade Bailey, Project Manager in the Public Buildings unit; Sofia Zuberbuhler-Yafar, Project Executive in Infrastructure; and Madeline Skoblik, Resident Engineer in Infrastructure. Many students were positively influenced by speaking to female professionals in various technical fields.

Students at ‘Introduce a Girl to AEC Day’
Students at ‘Introduce a Girl to AEC Day’ participated in group activities intended to boost awareness of professional opportunities in fields related to architecture, engineering, and construction (NYCDDC)

“I enjoyed meeting people who work in the field because it is interesting to hear their insight and about their day-to-day experiences,” said Autumn Gonzalez, 17, a senior at the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design who is heading to City College next fall to study architecture. “Seeing females out here confirms that this is the right path for me.”

Commissioner Peña-Mora started STEAM in 2014 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. Overall, DDC STEAM has served more than 1,400 students since its inception.

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