What is the Chicago ACE Mentor Program?

ACE is an after-school program for high-school sophomores, juniors and seniors who want to learn more about careers in architecture, construction management and engineering.

How does the ACE Program work?

ACE is comprised of design and construction professionals who team together and mentor a group of students during the school year. Team meetings take place after school for two hours (5:00-7:00 PM), once per week. The program is free – there is no charge to participate.

What will ACE look like during Covid-19?

During the Coronavirus pandemic, all ACE Mentor sessions will be VIRTUAL. This fall, we’ve planned a series of skill-building workshops, taught by our volunteer mentors. You must be registered for ACE to participate. We’ll offer classes in SketchUp, hand-sketching and model-making, as well as sessions on college admissions. For students new to ACE, we will do introductory sessions about each of the ACE careers: Architecture, Construction and Engineering.

During the second semester, after winter break, we’ll have our ACE Mentor design program. Students will work in small teams, with mentors and students from across Chicago.

What are the benefits of ACE?

· Mentoring by professionals in the design and construction industry
· Participation in hands-on design activities
· Virtual field trips to construction sites
· College-focused sessions with campus visits & panel discussions
· Opportunity to win college scholarships and paid summer internships – ACE Chicago has awarded over $2million in college scholarships and 300 internships!

Who is eligible to apply to ACE?

· Sophomores, juniors or seniors
· Students with a minimum GPA of 2.5
· Students interested in learning more about careers in building design and construction
· Those committed to actively participating in weekly team meetings


Top 5 Student Questions About ACE

What happens during a mentoring session?

During spring semester, students from various citywide schools are assigned per mentor team based on a day you selected. This year, we will meet virtually (either via Zoom or Google Meets) with mentors who are architects, engineers and construction managers. Meetings will take place once per week from 5:00-7:00 PM. Even in this virtual format, you’ll do hands-on activities, such as go on an architectural scavenger hunt, build a bridge out of spaghetti and gumdrops, play architecture trivia games, do a hand-sketch of your house. Special events include virtual tours of buildings under construction and field trips to college campuses to view the architecture and engineering studios. The team collaborates on planning and creating a building design, that is featured with sketches, models and an oral presentation at the End-of-Year Presentations event in April.

In addition, we’ll offer a series of fall workshops to build the skills that will help you be successful.


Teams meet weekly on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday afternoon. On your on-line application, indicate which day(s) of the week you are available to meet after school. We will try to meet your preferences and place you on a team based on the day(s) of the week that you choose. Once you have been assigned to a team, you will meet during that team’s assigned day.


Once you have registered through the ACE Mentor database, you’ll be sent a list of upcoming Fall workshops. Sessions include SketchUp, model-making, hand sketching and college sessions focused on architecture, construction and engineering.

After Winter break, we will assign you to a project team with other students from across the region and mentors.


To get the most of the ACE experience, we hope that you will regularly attend team meetings and events. Your mentors volunteer their time in preparing and participating in sessions for you.  Out of respect for their efforts, please let your mentors know if you cannot attend a session.

Also, share your ideas, opinions and suggestions with your mentors and fellow students. Remember this program is for you – you can make it an even better program if you communicate your interests!


Only students who have been active in ACE during the school year are eligible to apply for an ACE scholarship or internship. Students who wish to be considered submit an on-line application when the application process begins in the spring. Winners will be chosen in consideration of their outstanding participation in ACE, academic record, mentors’ evaluation, among other criteria. 


What do you
learn from ACE?

“The ACE program is a real look into real life jobs and experience. I used to think the transition into college and real life would be difficult, but ACE has showed me otherwise. The program gives a real good sense of responsibility and team work.”
Juan, Juarez High School

“ACE has provided me with so many tools and experiences that will ultimately help me in the future. I have experienced what it takes to design and plan something that seems like a straightforward project. You are not just told that teamwork is essential; you see and experience it firsthand. I have been prepared for my inevitable transition from high school.”
Alexy, Walter Payton High School

“School can only teach so much – the ACE program gives students a chance to learn outside the classroom, studying and working side by side with professionals. In the ACE Program I have learned how important working as a team really is, and that it takes many dedicated people to come together for a project to become a reality. It is definitely an experience that I am happy to be a part of.”
Kris, Lane Tech High School

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