With the recent passage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, it is now even more critical for our engineering, land surveying and related design professional business community to develop a pipeline of technically oriented people so that we have the capacity to meet our clients infrastructure goals for the future. ACEC/MA is collaborating with our member firms, other professional organizations, and educators to develop this pipeline. We need your firm’s involvement to increase students’ enthusiasm in technical careers across a wide range of diverse communities. By developing and retaining staff from a diverse pool, including minorities and women, we improve the ability of our businesses to provide value to our clients.
Over the past two years, ACEC/MA established a Task Force and a Forum to promote these efforts. The first is our ACEC/MA STEM Task Force (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) created to collaborate with educators and other youth contacts to promote STEM programs. These programs bring technically minded people into contact with young people to excite interest in a STEM career. Using in person and virtual class visits, model bridge building, urban planning exercises and a myriad of activities through such organizations as DiscoverE (http://www.discovere.org/), everyone can participate. In addition to these sources of model STEM programs, ACEC/MA has been partnering with the Mass STEM Hub (https://mass-stemhub.org/) over the past two years, as they coordinate a range of STEM activities statewide. After the 2020-2021 School Year Mass STEM Hub reported to us that 48 ACEC/MA member firms helped fill 78 volunteer seats for their virtual STEM events. This was a significant effort during a peak time for the pandemic, but we need to do better to make an impact. We will be asking our member firms to provide at least one STEM Ambassador to coordinate the volunteer effort within each firm.
Another STEM initiative is to encourage firms to work with the STEM Starter Academy. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education launched the STEM Starter Academy (SSA) in 2013 to build, enhance, and sustain the community colleges’ capacity to successfully graduate and transfer a greater number of students in the colleges’ STEM associate degree and certificate programs. Supported by the State Department of Higher Education and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the STEM Starter Academy's goal is to match the state's workforce needs in the ever-growing STEM career fields. The STEM Starter Academy contacts at each of the community colleges advise and guide these students through graduation and encourage them to continue into a four-year degree program in STEM. Many of the STEM Starter Academy students are minorities and/or women. The Community College system provides a path for these students that they might not be otherwise see. ACEC/MA provides a link between our member firms and the STEM Starter Academy. As a member firm, we ask you to consider hiring these students as interns and eventually as employees, provide mentoring opportunities and provide more career awareness opportunities for the campus programs to develop the diversity of our profession.
We also formed an ACEC/MA DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Forum last year. The DEI Forum has met quarterly over the past year. Through several training programs and discussion forums, member firms have focused on how to increase staff diversity, tools for employee retention through improved communication, and the availability of MBE, WBE, and DBE firms for teaming on projects.
As always, we welcome your participation in these efforts. ACEC/MA will continue to support our members through advocacy, education, leadership development and coordination. Please use the links below for more information.
Scott Miller, PE is the 2021-2022 ACEC/MA President and the Regional Manager and Vice President of Haley Ward
ACEC/MA members only pay the ACEC/MA member rate for registration. Check the ACEC/MA Member Directory to see if your firm is an ACEC/MA member. If your firm is an ACEC/MA member, you are a member.
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