#MyEXPerience: Adam Ahrens
Soft jazz welcomed attendees to the Lindblom Math and Science Academy (LMSA)’s final presentations on May 19, 2020. Throughout the schoolyear, EXP mentors taught engineering and architectural disciplines and principles to twelve eager learners from LMSA, a mentorship program available through the Engineering Future’s Program. Their final presentations were the accumulation of their journey through learning these disciplines and principles and applying lessons learned to real-world experiences. With guidance from LMSA engineering teacher, Nick Anaya and EXP mentors, students began the evening and ended it similarly – by impressing their understanding and passion upon the audience.
For two years in a row, EXP mentors have been working with LMSA. The comradery is familiar, but the students are always new. It builds on an environment of trust where learning and long-term investment in STEM education are key to success. Due to the pandemic, the traditional ‘in-person’ final presentation was shifted to a virtual setting. The meeting filled with EXP executive leaders, including COO + President, Mark Dvorak and senior vice president, Jefrey Jakalski. Additional attendees were engineers, architects and employees who witnessed the students come in-and-out of the Chicago office seeking the next equation, new challenges with a readiness to deliver solutions.
During each presentation, LMSA students were tasked to present comprehensive designs for a community center close to their school in the Southside Chicago neighborhood of Englewood. Bringing forth their understanding of mechanical, electrical and structural engineering, the principles of civil engineering and architectural style, students captured the audience with their innovations, recommendations for connectivity, longevity and durability, safety and sustainability. Each student presented their contributing piece and spoke to the importance of having consistent access to technology and inclusive community areas, including libraries with computers, learning programs, gardens and fitness centers.
As the meeting ended, Mark Dvorak shared a lesson of his own with the students, “I’m proud of everyone who participated, including mentors. I want to remind you, because you’re young and you don’t know what you don’t know, that the cool thing about being architects or engineers, and being in science, is that you geek out a little bit, but at the same time, you get to create things throughout your life that people use and appreciate. If you think about going to any city in the world, people remember the architecture and the infrastructure and that’s what has a lasting impact. One thing I consistently hear from our employees, and what they love doing, is seeing people use what they’ve created – enjoying it and appreciating it. That’s what we love and that’s what feeds us. This project that you worked on, is not unique and not a one-off, it’s something you’ll be doing the rest of your life and it’s fun … and great architecture and great engineering is for generations. This is just the beginning and it is rewarding throughout your entire lives.”
While the year is over, we know one thing isn’t, LMSA student’s potential to reach for the stars. And as Nick Anaya says, “rock on.”