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How High-School Students Broke the ICE With ESD

Starting a career is never easy. Attending a high school on the southeast side of Chicago may not sound like a promising route to full-time work. But thanks to ESD, many students attending Bowen High School not only received engineering training (and even architectural drafting training) from the company while there – they ended up becoming lifelong employees.

In our Workplace Solutions Group, five employees who went through the Industrial Cooperative Education (ICE) program at Bowen to get a start at ESD now boast a combined 137 years at our firm. That’s an amazing achievement in a day and age when changing companies many times during your career is the norm. Here are the stats: Carlos Rivera has been at ESD 47 years; I’ve been here 33; Ismael Contreras, 23; Juan Castaneda 18, and David Herrera 16.

Back in the ICE program, we all got to deal with ESD’s top engineers, even though some of us started in the mailroom, personally delivering drawings. This is back when compasses and drafting tools were a big part of design (Carlos even remembers the days of rotary phones!).

None of us would change our careers for anything. We are loyal to ESD, and the company is loyal to us. As Juan says, “Many of us got to build a new life for ourselves. Most kids from the city didn’t get this type of opportunity.”

ESD deserves so much credit for giving us the chance.