Students getting hands-on experience in architecture, engineering

Will design, construct $250,000 STEM Center

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IOWA CITY — High school students from seven Eastern Iowa counties are getting hands-on experience in the fields of architecture, construction and engineering.

More than 150 students and about 40 mentors met Thursday in the Kinnick Stadium press box for the launch of the first Eastern Iowa Chapter of the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program.

Over the next four months, the students and their mentors will design a 1,500-square-foot, $250,000 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center at Clear Creek Amana Middle School.

In addition to participating industry mentors, Kirkwood Community College is partnering with Shive-Hattery Inc. and the Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association for the design and construction portions of the new facility.

Joe Greathouse, Kirkwood construction management instructor, said Shive-Hattery will finalize the building design early next year and construction will begin in June 2015.

“The students will have free rein in designing what this building will look like,” Greathouse said. “The students also will build the STEM center, providing them with valuable hands-on experience.”

Greathouse, who previously worked with student-built home programs in the Corridor, saw a good fit and need for the ACE Mentor Program because of Kirkwood’s pre-existing ACE Career Academy for area high school students.

The ACE Career Academy offers high school students the opportunity to experience hands-on laboratory and classroom experience in basic architecture and construction skills, with support from industry experts.

Keith Johnk, senior planner for Shive-Hattery, said the ACE Mentor Program provides an opportunity for the architectural profession to reach out to the next generation in terms of career opportunities.

“We are very fortunate to begin our program chapter with a very real project,” Johnk said. “As a design experience, it doesn’t get more real than that.”

Greathouse said Hills Bank and Trust kicked off fundraising for the project with a $50,000 commitment. He said in-kind contributions from industry suppliers have enabled him to raise more than half the money for the project.

“Many of these companies are having a hard time finding qualified employees,” he said. “When I tell them what we are doing and the hands-on involvement of the students, they’re ready to make a commitment.”

Greathouse said the STEM center at Clear Creek Amana Middle School will allow students — especially young women — to see career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

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