November 12, 2015: Engineering Intro & Scavenger Hunt at HNTB

Tonight’s meeting was held at HNTB’s office, where we first had a delicious Italian Beef dinner! Then, the craziness broke loose! Students and Mentors went around the loop on a scavenger hunt to take group photos in front of a list of important Chicago landmarks in an epic battle to win Starbucks gift cards. Teams were battling against not only each other, but THE CLOCK! Midway through, the Mentors decided to assemble a super team of their own, and proceeded to dominate the competition. But in the end, it was Team 3 that was victorious! HNTB gave an introductory presentation to engineering and some of the work they do as a civil engineering firm.

Team 4 in front of the Civic Opera House

Team 1 at the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza

Team 6 (a.k.a. Team Kyle) at the Chicago City Datum marker

Team Mentors at the Thompson Center

Team 3 CHAMPIONS at Calder’s Flamingo (Federal Building)


November 5, 2015: ACE Student Orientation at Jones College Prep! 

Students met with everyone for the first time this year! We are all pumped up for the upcoming year! Tons of fun to be had while learning and building friendships! After all the formal business was taken care of, we played an ice-breaking game where everyone had a Chicago landmark taped to their backs. To find out what landmark we were, we circulated the room introducing ourselves and asking “yes” or “no” questions about our landmark.

Students and Mentors during an ice-breaking activity.

At our first meeting of the new year Team 6 began to focus in on this year’s project: the repurposing of Navy Pier.
Our team divided into two groups, each with a different project emphasis. Half the teamwill be designing an urban installation for the pier and half will be designing a feature for the end of the pier.

Burnham Pavilion- a temporary urban installation in Millenium Park

Burnham Pavilion- a temporary urban installation in Millenium Park

Last week’s meeting focused on brainstorming and refining ideas for each of the two elements of our project. Looking ahead, we will be honing in on a program that will more clearly set the scope of our project for the rest of the year.

College Night

The Week 4 meeting focused on discussing issues related to college- including planning and funding college careers, how to evaluate different college options, and what to do once you finish college.

Some big takeaways:

  • Make use of all available resources. Teachers, counselors, ACE mentors, etc. all have different experience relating to the college process. Be proactive and seek advice from a variety of sources.
  • Consider what YOU want/need from you college experience. College offers an incredible diversity of opportunities, consider how an individual school relates to your goals.
  • Financial planning is important. Take the time to fill out the FAFSA ( to apply for financial aid. Seek out scholarships and apply to as many as possible! When you do decide on a college, talk to the college administration to find out what financial aid they have available.

Finally, if you are seriously considering a career in Architecture, Construction, or Engineering, please make use of the collective knowledge ACE mentors have in planning for a college experience in one of those industries. Learn from the mistakes (and the successes) of those who have gone before you!

Team 6 met at the office of Thornton Tomasetti for an introduction to structural engineering. The engineers of TT provided an overview of basic concepts such as tension, compression, and bending forces.

ACE students then had an opportunity to draw on the meeting’s lesson while competing in the spaghetti hat challenge. This week’s challenge required students to design and build a hat made only of spaghetti and tape. The only criteria of this competition was to build the tallest hat possible.

An ACE mentor explains the structural and architectural purity of the triforce

Students approached the task with many different strategies, though two features were seen in many of the hats. Drawing inspiration from the design of the Hancock building, several groups made use of cross-bracing, which can be seen in the picture below as the X-shape at the base of the hat.

All the groups pursued a large spire, mimicking the real-world architectural tricks of tall buildings seeking the status of “world’s tallest building.” The winning team relied heavily on a tall spire supported by a stable pyramid shaped base, pictured below.

As a reminder: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will not be an ACE meeting on Thursday Nov. 22.

Attention Students:  Please join ACE on our annual campus visit to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, coming up Saturday March 10.  The trip is free to all ACE students and includes travel by coach bus, breakfast, lunch and a fantastic and informative tour for all students planning to attend college.

We will be hosted upon arrival by faculty at the College of Fine and Applied Arts, who will provide a presentation on programs in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.  Tours of the design studios and a pizza lunch will follow, before we head across campus to the Engineering Open House 2012.  Here students are able to participate in activities related to Civil and Structural engineering in a very informal setting.  Former ACE students will meet with us throughout the day and you’ll have plenty of time to ask questions about college life.  We might also have time for stops to see dorm rooms, book stores, and possibly a stop to see last year’s student Solar House competition.

You may ask your mentors for a permission slip with all the details, or you may download it here: Schedule and Permission_ACE FieldTrip UIUC 2012

This Week:

CONTRARY to our schedule, we will be meeting at GSA’s office this Thursday, November 17, 2011. Their office is located at 230 S. Dearborn, in Suite 3600 (on the 36th floor):

The entrance looks like this:

You should enter on Dearborn (the North-South street) just North of Jackson (the East-West street). You will have to go through a metal detector for security, so don’t bring any dangerous objects that you normally bring (like nail files, knives, etc). Maybe not the best day to try out your new goth jewelry, either. Take the first bank of elevators to the 36th floor and the receptionist will direct you to room 3640.

Make sure you’re there before 6 pm!

Closest ‘L’ Stops:
Blue/Red Lines: Jackson (if you’re coming from the Red line, go through the tunnel to go to the blue line but just keep exiting. The Blue line exit is right in front of the building, almost)
Brown, Orange, Purple, Pink – Harold Washington Library or Adams/Wabash (it’s about a block or two away)

Does anyone take the Metra? Which station are you coming in at? None of them are super close, but not really more than 4-5 blocks away.

In any case, we will be getting an introduction to Property Ownership from GSA (short for General Services Administration). Property ownership is pretty much the reason our industry exists. If people or companies didn’t spend billions of dollars every year developing proptery (read: changing what’s on a piece of land), we wouldn’t have any buildings to build! I’m very interested to see what exactly it is that they do, myself (this is Maureen, by the way).

Let’s recap our last meeting, November 10:


ACE Students,

An optional field trip to IIT’s campus has been arranged for next Friday, November 18, from noon to 4pm.  Students will meet with ACE mentors and IIT faculty on campus; we will tour architecture studios, engineering classrooms, student dorms and other campus buildings.  To sign up for the trip, or for more information, contact Geoff Dauksas at with your name and email address.  See flyer attached.


This Week:

According to our schedule, we will be meeting at Lend Lease’s office Thursday, November 10, 2011. Yes, we discussed something else last week, but we were wrong and we’re going to stick to the schedule. Our office is located at 1 N. Wacker Drive, in Suite 850 (on the 8th floor):

The entrance looks like this:

This week is COLLEGE NIGHT! You should have already turned in your survey either last week or via email. If you haven’t, fill it out anyway and email it ahead of time or bring it with you tomorrow. It can help you start thinking about college even if you don’t want to think too hard yet.

Let’s recap our last meeting, November 3: