Students from Santa Ana’s Century High School last week were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at one of Orange County’s most anticipated new buildings, courtesy of McCarthy Building Cos. The 425,524-square-foot CHOC Children’s patient tower in Orange is designed to be the safest children’s hospital in the nation, a state-of-the-art facility implementing the latest pediatric research and technology available.
But the hospital is still months away from completion; it won’t open until April 2013. The students were wearing hard hats and bright orange construction crew vests; they were there to learn about the building’s construction.
The tour was coordinated through the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program of America, a collaboration between building industry professionals and educators, to provide high school students with information on the different careers available in the construction industry.
This is the 10th year that McCarthy Building Cos. has participated in the ACE Mentor program. The company partners with an architect or engineer each year; this year’s collaboration is with Tom Nusbickel, Century High School’s lead ACE Mentor, and Rebecca Holliman, the teacher overseeing the group, to teach nearly 25 students about the design and construction industry.
One of the factors driving the ACE Mentor program is the need for a skilled workforce. Industry observers have reported that prior to the economic downturn, the construction industry workforce was among the largest in the country.
Following the employment declines that hit the industry as a result of the downturn, and compounded by lower numbers of students entering construction management courses at the college level, projections show that the profession is likely to see a shortage of qualified professionals in the next few years, according to McCarthy.
Escorted by Adam Kaufman, the ACE representative for McCarthy, and the McCarthy project staff working on the CHOC Children’s Hospital patient tower construction, the students toured the site and the seven-floor building, where they viewed the project plans, observed work in progress and learned about hospital construction.
“In the next year or so, each of these students will be making decisions regarding college and potential career choices. Exposure to the construction industry on such a large scale and at this young age can only broaden the horizons of each student’s career path,” said Kaufman.
The group of students in Century High’s ACE program has been particularly successful; their ACE Mentor final project –– the design for an air and space museum –– has been named among the top three finalists in the country for the National ACE Mentor Competition next month. If the Century High project is selected, a few students will represent the school in Washington D.C. and present the project, which was created using 3D modeling and room/space programming.
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