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Reflections from CAF Teens Studio

ESD Mechanical Engineer Julia Ingersoll and Electrical Engineer Andrew Leicht mentored Chicago teens at the CAF Teens Studio: Engineering + Construction on October 20, 2012. CAF (Chicago Architecture Foundation) is the leading organization dedicated to promoting Chicago architecture and celebrating its design innovation. These Saturday Studios support CAF?s mission to encourage Chicago youth to reach their potential through architecture, engineering, and construction. Julia and Andrew, along with mentors from Turner Construction, provided the young participants with insight into their careers as engineers and consultants. They answered questions and led small groups during an interactive, gumdrop construction competition. Here is what our engineers have to say about their experience:

?Manny (Juarez) is doing some incredible things at CAF with the teen initiatives. I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout, and it looked as if most of these teens return week after week to participate. I was a little weary about the response Julia and I would receive as we began talking about our careers ? but the kids were incredibly engaged and had so many questions for us. They were genuinely interested in how we became engineers and what we do day-to-day. I got to learn about some of the students? plans for pursuing careers in design and/or construction after talking with them individually, and it was nice to hear that many of the older students have already decided on college programs. Personally, I think I enjoyed participating in the gumdrop bridge contest just as much as some of the students. I felt like a kid again.? ? Andrew Leicht, Electrical Engineer

?Keep your eyes peeled for Chicago's newest building material – popsicle sticks and gum drops! It won't be long until Chicago's Architecture firms realize just how much more affordable and delicious it is than precast.

In all seriousness, I had a blast sharing my work experience with these high school students. Teenagers from all walks of life brought their creativity and curiosity to the studio, and better yet ? they were genuinely engaged in the conversation. These students have true promise, and it is clear they will succeed if given the opportunity. While I was focused on helping these architecture enthusiasts gain some insight into the opportunities that exist within the MEP field, they reminded me that the next engineering generation is on our heels and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. It was inspiring to see a group of aspiring high schoolers looking to their futures.? ? Julia Ingersoll, Mechanical Engineer