Ace summer camp hiking photo

This summer, four outstanding students from the ACE Mentor Program of Oregon recently spent a week at the University of Colorado Denver, where they joined peers from other Western states at a regional ACE Summer Camp.

Students worked in small teams to design and build outdoor seating in the College of Architecture and Planning's design fabrication lab. They learned how to use Rhino 3D modeling software, toured a concrete manufacturing plant, hiked and sketched in the mountains, went to an amusement park, and more.

Ace summer camp photo“I’m thankful for the opportunity to not only participate in something like [the summer camp], but I made great friends while I was there,” said Alessandra Avalos of Tulatin High School. “It was honestly one of the highlights of my summer. I won’t forget it anytime soon.”

This trip was made possible thanks to many generous individual donors, along with support from the Andersen Construction Foundation, Howard S. Wright, and the ACE Mentor Program Board of Directors. Over the past 13 years, leading firms in Oregon's design and construction community have worked with ACE to inspire youth to join their future workforce. The ACE program has provided mentors, funded scholarships, and supported opportunities like the ACE Summer Camp and several new internships.

Read more about the students’ experience at the summer camp through the Q&A below.

What did you learn from your experience at the summer camp?

Claire Glasser headshot
Claire Glasser

Claire Glasser: I learned how to work in a team really well. Seeing projects start to finish was eye opening -- seeing how each profession fits in and how each area works together.

Alessandra Avalos: Problem solving and how to adapt to changes. There were so many problems that came up and we had to figure out a way to make it work and finish by the end of the week. Sticking to a timeline, being able to compromise and remain spirited through it.

Alaina Keller headshot
Alaina Keller

Alaina Keller: It was a test of learning to roll with the punches and figure out how to do our design.

Coleman Neher: It was really cool to see everyone’s talents come to life. Everyone brought something unique to the table and it was really cool to see that all get highlighted.



What surprised you about the program?

Claire Glasser: I was expecting more clarity and direction within the project. It was nice to have that freedom, but also intimidating at the beginning. That’s where the team aspect came in – ideas bounced off of each other. It also surprised me how much I connected with people, not only with our shared interests, but it was fun to build friendships that I think will continue.

Alessandra Avalos headshot
Alessandra Avalos

Alessandra Avalos: It kind of makes you realize what a privilege it was to be selected to go. It’s not an everyday opportunity.

Alaina Keller: It was an unexpected wide variety of people from the region. It was really interesting to meet all these different folks and learn about their backgrounds and their experience with ACE.

Coleman Neher: I was surprised how generous the ACE mentor program is and how invested they are in the future of construction, engineering and architecture.


Do you have anything to add about the ACE program or the summer camp?

Claire Glasser: I would recommend the program to anyone who is interested. Definitely invest time into it, because the mentors invest so much time into you and it’s very motivating. Seeing people’s passions definitely makes you excited for your future.

Alessandra Avalos: I have really fond memories of the mentors in the regular ACE sessions. They kind of became role models for me. They are young women pursing their passions in a career field that is the same that I want to pursue. They really helped me and motivated me throughout the process.

Alaina Keller: I’m definitely grateful for ACE. This summer camp has been pretty awesome and I’ve made so many friendships. ACE is probably one of the best programs I’ve been involved in [through] my high school years.

Coleman Neher headshot
Coleman Neher

Coleman Neher: It was really impressive how much time the mentors give to the program, both in the camp and the regular ACE sessions. At camp, [the college mentors] were super excited and eager to teach us. ACE is a really cool program. It has given us all so many opportunities that we wouldn’t have gotten.



About ACE: The ACE Mentor Program of Oregon is a local affiliate of the national ACE nonprofit. This in-depth mentorship program serves about 150 students annually and is staffed by the nonprofit Portland Workforce Alliance. Registration for the 2020 program will open in September.

ACE Students Reflect on Summer Camp in Denver