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Joint DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team Competes in Construction Industry Roundtable Challenge

October 23, 2018

DDC: Ian Michaels, 718-391-1589

Long Island City, NY - The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) kicked off its joint ACE Mentor Team 8 program today with a transportation problem designed to introduce students to the 2018 Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) challenge.

There are 31 public high school students from Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island on this year’s DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team, with 17 of them participating in today’s event along with 11 mentors. The team was split into six groups for the challenge, which was to create a structure that would connect through multiple checkpoints to transport a marble across a room and into a vessel using only letter-sized copy paper, plastic cups and tape.


The DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team at work at the agencies’ Long Island City headquarters
The team took a total of 40 minutes to build a structure spanning roughly 34 feet in length that ranged to roughly 5.5 feet in height. After four unsuccessful attempts, ACE Team 8 successfully achieved the goal and transported the marble from one end of the room to the other and through the checkpoints.
Queens native Lorraine Grillo leads both the DDC and SCA, which occupy the same building at 30-30 Thomson Street in Long Island City.
“The ACE Mentor program is an excellent way to interest young people in future careers in architecture, construction and engineering, and open their eyes to opportunities they may not have considered before,” said Grillo, who serves as both DDC Commissioner and SCA President. “Today’s exercise forced our ACE Mentor team to quickly develop a plan of action, and work cooperatively to develop a creative engineering solution to a fun problem. We look forward to seeing what else they create during the year.”
DDC’s partnership with SCA and ACE Mentor is organized under the DDC’s STEAM education initiative, established in 2014 as a pipeline for City students to career fields related to science, technology, engineering, art/architecture and mathematics.
“STEAM careers are the jobs of the future and our young people need to be prepared if they are to succeed and compete in the 21st century global economy. The ACE Mentor program is designed to capture young people’s attention and enthusiasm about what they can accomplish as future engineers, architects and other built environment professionals. The exposure to civil engineering and construction that our ACE TEAM 8 students will gain this school year is invaluable, especially in New York City, an urban landscape that is ever-changing in response to the needs of its people and environment,” said Lee Llambelis, DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives.
Between now and the end of the 2018-2019 school year, the DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team will work to complete the 2018 Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) Challenge and come up with proposals for either transforming neglected parts of urban areas/cities into interactive playgrounds or playscapes; how to alleviate transportation congestion in urban settings; or the creation of an effective community health clinic.
The Team may present its project at the CIRT’s National Design Competition. Team members will be required to explain their intentions for the structure built, the reasoning behind it and how they would construct it, including details on a proposed redesign, construction materials, building techniques and estimated cost. They would also take into consideration applicable sustainability features.


More about the 2018 Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) challenge:

Playground or Playscape
This challenge seeks to find exciting proposals to transform neglected parts of urban areas/cities into interactive landscapes, encouraging public engagement, community involvement, and sustainable adaptive reuse. It asks teams to provide a design/construction solution, which advocates creativity and promotes outside activity, increasing socialization, and interaction. Teams should site their proposals in an abandoned or forgotten urban site, and develop a new era playground or playscape that creates opportunity for interaction and play for citizens of all ages.

Alleviate Urban Transportation Congestion
This option asks teams to tackle the task of alleviating transportation congestion in urban settings. Moving large numbers of people in relatively small or restricted urban areas is an all too commonplace problem in modern societies. The challenge involves identifying the various assets or means of transportation, their relative importance, limitations, and potential to alleviate the congestion. Once identified, Teams propose a single element to be addressed with a cohesive design and construction solution that has the greatest potential to alleviate the problems. The team must prioritize or select what aspect or asset among the many transportation elements to either enhance, change, replace, or augment, as well as how it will be integrated to impact other elements. For example, replace a bridge or put a new one in to vastly improve flow of vehicle traffic; propose high-occupancy toll lanes; enhance or install a mass transit system; improve intermodal points to improve flow; or any other number of possibilities.

Community Health Clinic
Create a meeting point for individuals, families, and visitors, in need of medical treatment, checkups, and therapy that will present a whole-life feeling and reduce or eliminate the fear, anxiety, and boredom often associated with visiting medical clinics. The construction features of this facility must be the key to create a place where openness and diversity prevail -- where children, young people, and adults all feel at ease, whether they are the patient or just accompanying such a person. This challenge envisions an integrated clinic serving a local community, therefore should reflect “the style” of the area it will serve. Vital to this option is site selection and use or reuse of the available assets in the community (vs. new construction). Central to any solution should be the incorporation of elements that help facilitate the medical interaction (enhance flow, comfort, and recovery), as well as address the needs of accompanying individuals regarding waiting times, diversions, and entertainment. The underlying goal of the design/construction proposal: find innovative ways to make something that is in general done with “dread” into something that has some enhancing aspects.


Founded in 1994 by a group of leading architects, contractors and engineers in New York City, the ACE Mentor Program has served over 65,000 students nationwide and over 10,000 students in New York alone. Today more than 9,000 students and 3,600 mentors participate in ACE each year in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Three-quarters of ACE students come from minority and underserved communities.

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 such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 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