Students from Columbia Secondary School Join the Manhattanville ACE Mentorship Team

Monday, February 1, 2016

High school students building structure with masking tape and spaghetti.

High school students from the Columbia Manhattanville ACE Mentorship team constructing a structure using spaghetti and masking tape during an activity that introduced them to basic principles of design and engineering. Students were competing to build the tallest structure that could balance a marshmallow at its peak.

For the seventh time, Columbia’s Manhattanville Development Group and its professional team of engineers, architects and construction managers are providing real-world insight into building design and construction for local students as part of the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentorship program.

This year marks the first time that students from Columbia Secondary School (CSS), a public math, science and engineering school covering 6th through 12th grades, are part of the Columbia Manhattanville team. The CSS participants are joining students from the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics in East Harlem and Midwood High School in Brooklyn on this year’s Manhattanville ACE team.

“Getting high school students working with professionals and exposed to real-world projects involving architecture, engineering and construction is invaluable experience at such a young age,” said Philip Pitruzzello, senior vice president of the Manhattanville Development Group at Columbia University. “The ACE Mentorship Program is one of our team’s favorite community activities, as evident by this being the seventh year that we have done it. We’re excited this year to have the participation of so many students from the immediate neighborhood at Columbia Secondary School joining the team.”

Structured similarly to past years, the program takes place over the course of an academic year, beginning with presentations from professionals involved in the Manhattanville development to expose the students to all facets of a construction project.

The Manhattanville Development Group at Columbia University gave a presentation from the perspective of a project owner. Other presenters included Lendlease, the construction manager; JB&B, a mechanical and electrical engineering, plumbing and fire protection consulting firm; Davis Brody Bond architects; Stantec, a provider of civil engineering consulting services; and WSP Group, structural engineers.

Winning team of high school students from Columbia Manhattanville ACE Mentorship smiling with winning spaghetti structure.

The winning structure and team members from the Columbia Manhattanville ACE Mentorship spaghetti building exercise.

This year, the Columbia Manhattanville ACE team will be developing a simulated design on Site 4 of the Manhattanville project site, a triangular site approximately 35,000 square feet located between 125th and 130th Streets near Twelfth Avenue. The simulation activity this year involves creating three linked buildings – a cafeteria, residence hall and recreation center. Even though these simulated uses are not consistent with what the eventual use will be for Site 4, the exercise gives the students a taste of many real-world challenges of building in urban environments such as space constraints, site conditions and client requirements.

This year’s Manhattanville ACE team is larger than past years with more than 25 student members. The team’s size will allow the students to form separate groups based on subject matter – mechanical, electrical and plumbing; architectural; and structural engineering, mimicking how a real construction project is structured.

The program culminates with a group presentation of the simulated project plans – including the creation of a project model – in front of an expert panel in May. Marcelo Velez, associate vice president for project management and construction at Columbia’s Manhattanville Development Group, is a board member of the ACE Mentor Program of Greater New York.