by Dave Guzas
ACE Mentor Program of America annually sponsors a Design Competition which is open to all ACE Mentor Affiliates. In its fifth year, the competition is maintained, coordinated, and judged by the Construction Industry Round Table’s CEO members.
In 2012 the results in addition to the finalist, six other teams were recognized as Honorable Mention/First Runner-Up or Second Runner-Up in the three different design challenges or options: This was won in the History Museum Challenge by the ACE Greater Bridgeport Team(1st Runner-Up).
A group of Trumbull High School students made their parents and mentor’s proud last spring when they entered into a nationwide design competition. For the past 6 years, the ACE Mentor Program and the Construction Industry Round Table hold the competition, which is open to high school students who participate in the ACE Mentor Program. Each student team must select amongst three types of projects and are given from October to mid-March to conceive, design and assemble a presentation that exhibits their ideas for the project. For the 2013 competition, the Trumbull Students worked closely with Mentors from the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Bridgeport to design a new Museum of Transport in the currently vacant plot of land at Bridgeport’s Steelpointe Harbor. Their design consisted of a rectilinear building with 4 levels, each representing different modes of transportation. Patrons would board a subway car in the parking lot which would then travel underground to the basement of the building, giving them an introduction to subterranean mass transit which was pioneered just 60 miles away in New York City. Patrons then would climb stairs or take an elevator to the first floor where all modes of ground and sea transportation would be on exhibit: cars, trucks and model ships. Real ships would be moored in Bridgeport Harbor on a dock adjacent to the museum. Going up to the second floor, patrons would see all modes of air transportation such as planes, helicopters, and even a hot air balloons. The third floor would be dedicated to space travel. A 1/4th scale model of the Saturn IV Rocket would occupy a gallery that stretches from the first to the third floors. The building also accommodates a small theater, cafeteria and additional exhibition space outside on the museum grounds.
One of the key requirements of the competition was the museum had to be relevant to it’s location. As the students researched, they found not only did CT have a rich history in ship building and railroads but also discovered that many companies who contribute to modern forms of transportation currently call CT their home. Two of the largest names in the aerospace industry: Pratt & Whitney (based in East Hartford) and Sikorsky Aircraft (based in neighboring Stratford) would be among the companies celebrated in this museum. Hamilton Sundstrand (based in East Hartford) also is credited with supplying NASA with suites for astronauts to use in space exploration. Connecticut’s contributions to the industry of ocean vessels is legendary – from the colonial ship yards of New London, Mystic, New Haven and Bridgeport to the more modern manufacture of nuclear submarines at Electric Boat in Groton. Even the infrastructure of the museum would take advantage of local companies – elevators would be provided by Otis (based in Farmington) and electricity would be provided by fuel cells, which are manufactured by FuelCell Energy Inc. based in Danbury.
The panel of judges saw that the team’s design was cohesive and very well thought out. This is not an easy feat considering that the entire project was submitted on two 23” x 33” boards. Needless to say, the project had to speak for itself and it did. Out of 37 entries across all three categories, this team of students from Trumbull High School would be recognized for their design by being commended as the first runner-up in the museum category. The students learned many lessons through this competition, including collaboration, organization, and presentation skills and perhaps most importantly, time management. The ACE Mentor Program heartily congratulates Bryan Dunn, Benjamin Schoenleber, Sarah Baghai, Christopher Clark, Sam Maloney, Crystal Hogan and Anthony Teixeira