Mentorship is a service that can have a tremendous impact on the younger generation by improving academic performance, heightening self-esteem, and stimulating career trajectory. By acting as an ambassador to future leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals, the purpose of our work becomes focused on enriching the greater community. Several of our staff at Antinozzi Associates have stepped up to this challenge through their involvement with the ACE Mentor Program, designed to introduce students to the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering industry. It provides valuable opportunities for students to work directly with industry professionals, discover and develop new skills, and receive hands-on experience in solving design challenges using advanced computerized tools that prepare them for careers in these fields. One member of our staff, Shannon Hovan, has had her own personal experience taking part in this program:

“I participated in the ACE Mentor program throughout my four years at Bunnell High School in Stratford, from being the only girl in my freshman year Technology class where I first learned about ACE, through senior year in 2007 when I was awarded the ACE Scholarship. The program expanded my interest in the profession and led me to major in Architecture and minor in Construction Management at UMass Amherst. The projects that resonated the most with me were the ones that challenged our team to solve problems and explore interesting ideas. What would the major spaces be? Would any spaces be shared? Where would these spaces be located on the site to take advantage of access and views?

It was fun and creative, and I remember the mentors being really engaged. They were able to get carried away, have fun, and be imaginative right alongside the students they were mentoring. Looking back, I learned an invaluable lesson during those years – to find the joy in your work. The connection I made with Antinozzi Associates originally as a high school student attending weekly ACE meetings at their office came full circle when their doors were opened to me again after I graduated from Temple University with my Master’s Degree five years ago, and I have been at the firm as a design professional ever since.”

We are equally proud of the students from Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bunnell High School, Stratford High School, Platt Technical High School, Shelton High School, Fairfield Warde High School, New Canaan High School, Lauralton Hall, Fairchild Wheeler Magnet High School, Engineering and Science University Magnet School, and Trumbull High School who participated in this year’s ACE Mentor program. Congratulations to the Summit Design team for taking home the Annual Christiano Emeritus award for their winning design at last month’s final presentation at the University of Bridgeport!

One of the students from the Greater Bridgeport Chapter, Ann Pakhayev, representing New Canaan High School, was a recipient of the CMiC Allen Berg Memorial Scholarship, a prestigious ACE National award, and the Murray Merl Scholarship, the highest honor within the ACE Mentor Program of Connecticut. She and her mother, along with President of the ACE Mentor Program of Connecticut, Maria Loitz of BVH Integrated Services, and one of our Chapter’s mentors from Turner Construction, Georgina Talbot, traveled to Washington D.C. for this recognition as part of the ACE 25th Anniversary Celebration. Ann highlighted some of the added benefits of the program such as building confidence in project delivery and public speaking: 

“I participated in the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the ACE Mentor program last year, in which I built a great camaraderie and feeling of belonging in a community of like-minded individuals. In developing residential plans for the revitalization of Steelpointe Harbor in Bridgeport for our project, I helped present and lead the team’s final presentation at the University of Bridgeport as lead architect. The participation helped me build confidence in delivery, as I had to both talk through meaningful ideas quickly and keep the audience engaged. In congruence to my prior experiences, I hope to continue developing design and leadership skills as well as ultimately learning more about architecture in the real world. I also hope to continue building confidence, making friends, and collaborating with my peers.”

After the program wrapped up at the end of the school year, ACE Mentors received this meaningful feedback from Dominic Gomes, a Stratford High School student in the program: “I wanted to thank the ACE Mentors for taking their time to support and guide us as we participated in the ACE program. I have worked with CAD since middle school, but this was a first for me to use CAD while working with someone from the industry. I appreciate the opportunity I was given to learn about the engineering field with professionals from a variety of backgrounds.”

Antinozzi Associates would like to thank everyone who gave their time and resources to this program, including all of the ACE mentors and leaders; Antinozzi staff members Kevin Gatzke, David Stone, and Joel Smith; parents and school liaisons who helped along the way; and contributors from Fuss & O’Neill, DeSimone Consulting Engineers, Turner Construction, Gilbane Building Company, DiBlasi Associates, ENCON, BL Companies, the University of Bridgeport, the Stratford Board of Education, Trumbull Public Schools, and the Town of Trumbull. We would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Diane Christiano, Chair of the Advisory Board for the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the ACE Mentor Program of CT, for her 20 years of leadership and dedication to the program.

We hope the students are enjoying a fun and rewarding summer, and we look forward to this coming year’s program. Best wishes to all those pursuing Architecture, Construction, and Engineering majors in the Fall!

Thank you to John Hewitt for providing photos from the final presentation at the University of Bridgeport.