Photo caption: Regional Administrator Ann P. Kalayil (second from left) and Public Buildings Service Regional Commissioner John Cooke (right) join (from left) Michael Finn, Mariah McGunigle, Myla Desmaree Clayborn and Deion Quackenbush, and Giovanni Diaz in congratulating Myla and Deion for being selected as summer interns in GSA’s Great Lakes Region.

Using Our Experience to Mentor the Next Generation


The Great Lakes Region has been active in the ACE Mentoring Program since 2007, mentoring more than 213 students from 2008 to 2016. This year, for six months, staff in our region worked through the program to mentor with high school students curious about careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. As part of the program, a team of industry professionals were pulled together to help coach these students through the various stages of a construction project: from initial concepts, through design, and up to construction logistics planning.

Our mentors from GSA represented the owner’s perspective, and were on a team with 17 high school students and professionals from Cannon Design, Thornton Tomasetti, and Mortenson Construction, representing the architect, engineer, and construction perspectives.

For this cohort, the students were assigned a site in the heart of Chicago’s central business district, and were tasked with developing a student center. Students conducted a site visit, developed a program for the building, and finalized the overall shape and size of the building based on their programs’ requirements.

Giovanni Diaz, one of the ACE mentors and an asset manager in our regional office, shared what the program means to him:

I came up as a student in the ACE Mentoring Program and now I am a mentor myself. It means a lot to me to be able to give back to a program that has done so much for me. Not only have I learned as a student but as a mentor too. It gives me an opportunity to work with our industry partners on a common goal, inspire high school students to pursue careers in design and construction.

By working on a collaborative team, the students completed their designs in Revit, a design software, and developed a branding scheme, cost estimate and schedule, and site logistic plan. They recently gathered in Chicago to present their final projects to their peers, mentors, and families. Hearing what they developed was a proud moment for me, as I know our staff played a key part in helping these students create a successful project.

The night also featured the announcement of numerous scholarships and internships. Our region has been a proud supporter of the ACE Mentor Program for more than nine years. This year, we awarded two internships, where the students will work in our Design and Construction Division, and will gain exposure to the different phases of construction projects. They will also have the opportunity to shadow our Historic Building Preservation and Art in Architecture group. We’re excited to have them join our team for the summer!

President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative strives to connect young people to “mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way into the middle class” and by joining with the ACE Mentor program, GSA is creating real opportunities for students to succeed.  I’m encouraged by the passion these students have, and I can’t wait to see how this next generation of architects, engineers and construction professionals will design and build future communities.


Last Reviewed: 2018-03-12