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Above: The three recipients represent (from left to right) ACE teams from Frederick, MD; Central Iowa; and Northern Rhode Island.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Construction Industry Round Table (the national business trade association known as CIRT), in partnership with the ACE Mentoring Program of America, hosted the final round for its seventh annual Design Competition Awards Program at Washington D.C.’s National Building Museum.

Committed to attracting young people to the industries of architecture, construction, and engineering, the ACE Mentor Program pairs volunteers from the professions with high school students across the country to meet regularly for coaching sessions, lectures, and site visits. The program reaches over 8,000 students annually.

This year, 43 teams representing 24 affiliate chapters submitted entries for the National Design Competition Awards. The design challenges from which the teams could choose were: a community park, a modular education addition, and a universal design/home retrofit. The three finalists and their mentors gathered at the National Building Museum to compete for the top prize of $5,000.

A spokesperson for each team gave a formal presentation before a panel of judges composed of CIRT members (I was one of the judges). In first place was a team from Central Iowa, with their “Modular Reset” scheme for education facility expansion. The Frederick MD, team took home second for their “Universal Design Home Retrofit” entry, and the Northern Rhode Island team placed third with their plan for “Riverwalk Park.” Four mentors were also awarded for their exemplary contributions.

The day’s events showcased the ACE Mentorship Program’s dedication not just to the field, but also to helping young people build critical life skills, such as planning, collaboration, and public speaking. The celebration of students who are embracing architecture, engineering, and construction also rang a hopeful note for the future of the industry. 

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Above: The top-placing Central Iowa team accepts their check for $5,000.