As part of our continued stewardship, Mortenson recently hosted student members from the ACE Mentor Program at the Home2 Suites by Hilton construction site in River North. Since 1995, ACE has sought to inform and excite high school students about career opportunities in architecture, construction, and engineering. The program affords those students hands-on learning opportunities, including visits to job sites and interaction with mentors who are established in the field.
The 17-story, 206-key Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel is Mortenson’s first real estate development project in Chicago with lead developer Akara Partners. The hotel is designed by Norr Architects. On the day of the visit, the concrete had been poured for the sixth floor and framing for the seventh had begun. The students toured the third floor and received an overview of how the team was implementing the post-tensioned concrete floors.
ACE students tour the third floor of the Home2 Suites by Hilton in River North.
The site visit was spearheaded by project engineer and active ACE mentor, Rachel Marshall, who first heard about the program on her first day at Mortenson. “I enjoy interacting with the students and watching them learn,” she says, “it is so rewarding when the lightbulb flashes and they finally understand.” The students enjoy the opportunity to gain rare experience through the program as well as learning new technologies that are used in the industry. Demetri Greening, a senior at Rich East High School in Park Forest, especially enjoys interacting with the mentors, saying, “They have so much knowledge and experience onsite. I just love being able to interact with people who are intellectually like me.”
Project Engineers Frank Carello and Amrita Meher (far right) answer ACE students' questions about the construction industry.
“Site visits like these are important because it opens students’ eyes to what is involved in the construction phase of a building,” Rachel explains, “It’s easy to show the students drawings and renderings—but this way, they can actually see all that goes into pouring a deck or coordinating MEP systems. We want students to see construction as a career they would want to follow.” Students like Brennan Lighthall, a senior at Huntley High school, value this experience as well. “With these site visits, I get to experience the real life of an engineer,” he says, “we get behind the scenes, which we usually never get to see.”