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Driven to Serve: Ace Mentorship

When it comes to preparing the next generation of civil engineers, the future is now for our Tennessee team.

Zach Wisniowski, EI, and Jacqueline Krim, both project professionals in TTL’s Nashville office, are volunteering this school year with the Middle Tennessee branch of the ACE Mentor Program of America.

Founded in 1994, this after-school program promotes workforce development for high school students by connecting them with experts within the A/E/C industry.

Zach came to TTL already familiar with the ACE Mentor Program, as it was offered through his high school in Franklin, Tennessee. To Jacqueline, the program was an entirely new concept. But together, they were driven to serve the youth of Middle Tennessee’s Team 2 by bridging the gap between these six students and the civil engineering expertise TTL could offer.

“We’re trying to educate these kids and get them out into the real world with real firms,” Zach said.

Week by week, mentors from various firms – contractors, architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and TTL – met with the students to explore the realms of engineering and design. This year's theme, "rhythm," led the students of Team 2 to envision a "planetquarium," a harmonious fusion of a planetarium and an aquarium, reflecting the rhythm of the earth and sky.

“They have all the freedom in the world to come up with any design they can imagine,” Jacqueline said.

Guided by mentors like Zach, Jacqueline, and Fawn Fenton, AIA, a local architect serving as leader of Team 2, the six students delved into the complexities of real-world projects, blending imagination with practicality. From topographic maps to architectural plans, they learned to weave together diverse elements into a cohesive vision.

“We’re guiding them on engineering standards,” Jacqueline said, “but that’s about as in-depth as we get with the project design.”

As the project took shape, so did the students' aspirations.

Jacqueline and Zach witnessed firsthand their marveling at the intricacies of stair design and parking lot layouts, realizing the depth of engineering beyond textbooks alone.

“The main goal is to try and expose them to as much as possible,” Zach said. “It’s fun to see these kids learn about the engineering side of their imagination.”


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