POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – A group of current and former J.P. Taravella High School students are ahead of the game on many fronts.
They meet several times a month to study different aspects of the construction business. Building Information Modeling (BIM) Coordinator Andrew Schroder, of Current Builders, is one of their mentors. His job focuses on the tech side of the job, using virtual reality and design software to create computerized models of jobs so that the field work flows more efficiently.
“It’s very rewarding, being able to help students,” said Schroder. “I was in their position not too long ago, ten years ago now. It’s great seeing the impact you can have on someone else’s life.”
The program is a chapter of the Ace Mentorship Program of America. Schroder was recruited to mentor the high schoolers by his boss, Current Builders CEO Chip Reid, as part of an effort to get more young people interested in a dwindling workforce. Students listen to guest speakers, work on their own projects, and learn about various aspects of the construction industry.
Brandon Powell, who just graduated, was the president of the club and organized the members.
“Andrew is really focused on how you’re not just doing the same thing every day, but there’s many different challenges, different departments, different sub-companies (or separate companies), and different fields of engineering and other fields.”
Powell has been a mentor as well, grooming Laura Castro, now entering her junior year, for her new seat as president.
“This field, I was not actually looking into it,” said Castro. “I was able to meet these great people and they’re actually really interested in bringing you into what they’re doing, and it was a really fun, interesting, unique experience to be able to see exactly what the field is like. We’re not in a classroom, sitting, seeing some examples from the teacher, so it was really nice to get their experience and their passions, and for them to pass them on to us as well. And those passions have also become our passions.”
Kar Ho, also a BIM director, knows that passion well. He says it’s a great feeling to return to his high school and make a difference in the career paths of young people.
“It’s been an amazing process,” said Ho. “Especially because when I started, I didn’t have anyone really to guide me. It was only by chance that I stumbled into it in my high school drafting class.”
Powell is on his way to study mechanical engineering and architecture, with a scholarship from Ace Mentoring, and would like to be a mentor himself someday.
Castro is taking her new responsibility as president seriously and feeling appreciative for the adults who dedicate their time.
“It’s really interesting, seeing them eager as well, because they don’t really have to be there helping us,” she said. “It’s just really nice. It’s a really great feeling to know that there’s people out there actually wanting to help you, and interested in what you’re interested in.”
Ho says investing in young people is the only way to ensure the future of the building industry.
“That’s our lifeblood,” he said. “In order for us to keep on growing as an industry, we need talent coming in. We can’t stay stagnant and just have the same pool of talent, just circling around and around. We will never grow like that.”