STAMFORD, CONN. — ACE Mentor Program of America is one of eight recipients of the prestigious 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). In a White House press release, President Barack Obama said, “Through their commitment to education and innovation, these individuals and organizations are playing a crucial role in the development of our 21st-century workforce. Our Nation owes them a debt of gratitude for helping ensure that America remains the global leader in science and engineering for years to come.”

PAESMEM is the nation’s highest award for mentoring. Since its establishment in 1996, only 200 or so individuals/organizations have earned this distinction. The award recognizes the critical role mentoring plays in the academic, personal, and career development of students studying science and engineering — particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields. By offering their expertise and encouragement, mentors help prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers while ensuring that tomorrow’s innovators reflect and benefit from the diverse talent of the United States.

Charles H. Thornton, Ph.D., P.E., chairman and founder of ACE, and founding principal of international engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, said, “I’m incredibly proud for ACE to be recognized with this prestigious honor. I take enormous pride in being part of an organization that helps to find and inspire young men and women who likely would not have chosen these careers, if not for our outreach and mentoring. This award is a wonderful recognition of ACE’s success. But most important, the men and women who have taken our help and gone on to spectacular careers in architecture, construction and engineering are our true validation.”

“All ACE mentors share in this moment, as they are the lifeblood of our organization,” Thornton added. ”It is because of their dedication, time, and effort, that we are able to reach and inspire wonderful young men and women.”

Thornton will accept the award in December at a White House ceremony, and participate in other special recognition events and meetings with education and research leaders.

The ACE Mentor Program is a unique industry-driven and supported partnership among industry professionals — architects; mechanical, structural, electrical, environmental, and civil engineers; construction managers; craftspeople in the skilled trades; college and university representatives; and others — who work together to attract young people to their professions. Further, some of the largest companies in the industry join together in supporting ACE — from Thornton Tomasetti and Turner Construction Company, to Gilbane Building Company, Inc. and EMCOR Group, Inc. Volunteer mentors across the nation immerse high school students in hands-on activities, which realistically simulate the process of designing and constructing a project. In return, the industry gets a much-needed boost of new talent.

Recent quantitative research proves that ACE works.
• Participants graduate high school at a higher rate than non-ACE participants.
• 40 percent of ACE alumni go into one of the engineering fields.
• ACE increases diversity in university architecture, construction and engineering enrollment.

Candidates for the PAESMEM are nominated by colleagues, administrators, and students from their home institutions. The mentoring can involve students at any grade level from elementary through graduate school. In addition to being honored at the White House, recipients receive awards of $25,000 from the National Science Foundation to advance mentoring efforts. ACE will use this grant to further honor its mentors.

NBC’s TODAY show recently broadcast an interview with Charles Thornton by Jane Pauley for her program “Your Life Calling with Jane Pauley.” View a six-minute segment at www.aarp.org/personal-growth/transitions/info-10-2011/ylc-building-futures.html.

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