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DDC “Meet the Builders” Event Provides Career Advice and Lessons in Engineering to Brooklyn High Schoolers

May 11, 2018

Dan Leibel

Long Island City, NY - Twenty 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. He program is part of DDC’s STEAM education initiative.

Breaking out into groups of four, the students completed a “Rapid Engineering” challenge designed to encourage teamwork, critical thinking and communication. Using just plastic straws, disposable coffee cups, tape and putty, the attendees competed to build the strongest tower.

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.

Students from Brooklyn Generation High School
Students from Brooklyn Generation High School at the DDC’s 2018 “Meet the Builders” event

“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.

tudents work together with STEAM educator Anthony Martin
Students work with STEAM educator Anthony Martin, third from left, at the Meet the Builders event

“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 DDC 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.

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 long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $13 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