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June 12, 2017

DDC “Young Engineers Showcase” Brings Lessons in Sustainability to Hamilton Grange Middle School in Harlem

Ian Michaels

Harlem, NY – The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) hosted its Young Engineers Showcase at MS 209 Hamilton Grange in Morningside Heights last week, highlighting the work of 20 middle school students in the school’s STEAM education initiative - a DDC program that introduces City students to the fields of science, technology, engineering, architecture/art and math. The event was the fifth Young Engineers Showcase this year.

Students at MS209
Students at MS209 tested their model cities to understand the fundamentals of environmentally responsible urban design and runoff as part of DDC’s STEAM education initiative

“The Young Engineers Program is important to the youth of New York City who might not have had exposure to the concepts that are prevalent in architecture and engineering,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “We help students think critically about the built environment and the ideas of sustainability, equity, resiliency, and healthy living that are driving the future of public design. The students in this program are the architects and city planners of our future. DDC will continue to seek ways to expand its work with public schools throughout the City.”

Students in Young Engineers participated in a six-week course that taught fundamentals of environmentally responsible city planning as it pertains to public buildings and infrastructure. The course used framework from the “Engineering is Elementary: Don’t Runoff” curriculum, created by the Museum of Science in Boston, which introduces students to new and emerging technologies that will help counter the effects of stormwater runoff in natural bodies of water such as the East River, Hudson River, Lower New York Bay and Atlantic Ocean, which can be negatively affected by stormwater that mixes with sewage or litter on City streets.

Twenty students from Hamilton Grange Middle School
Twenty students from Hamilton Grange Middle School participated in the six-week Young Engineers Program

“I’m proud of the students at Hamilton Grange middle school, who in just six weeks were able to understand the problems related to polluted runoff and constructed models of cities complete with solutions to curtail instances of runoff reaching fresh water,” said Deputy Commissioner of Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives, Lee Llambelis. “Our goal for our Young Engineers is to have our students envision themselves as the engineers, architects and built environment professionals of the future. This program is a great way for them to immerse themselves in the ideas and challenges related to the built environment.”

Since 2015 there have been approximately 1,500 middle school, high school, and college students who have participated in various educational programs coordinated by DDC’s STEAM division. In addition to the Young Engineers Program, the STEAM initiative offers high school internships; college internships; enrichment programs geared towards middle schoolers; mentorship for students interested in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries; the Opportunity Academy, which is a career readiness program that supports minority-owned, woman-owned, and locally-based business enterprises; as well as programs that function in association with DDC’s Town & Gown program and the Department of Youth and Community Development.

The STEAM initiative also hosts one-day events to give youth exposure to ideas related to urban landscape and design. One such program is the “Introduce a Girl to Architecture, Engineering and Construction Day,” which is organized to present young women with perspectives that encourage them to get involved in these fields of work and study. Women comprise only 34% of the total number of employed professionals with doctorates in the field of engineering, according to the National Science Foundation. 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.

This year, over 100 students have been reached through the Young Engineers Program.  More information can be found on DDC’s website

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