Currently Reading

NAHB: ACE program gives Iowa high schoolers building experience


NAHB: ACE program gives Iowa high schoolers building experience

Through the ACE Academy of Eastern Iowa, students have built tree houses, baseball dugouts, and tiny houses.

By NAHB September 1, 2016
This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of Pro Builder.

The partnership among an Iowa community college, two HBAs, and a committed group of building industry mentors is opening doors to students interested in construction and engineering careers—and opening the eyes of the students’ parents about how rewarding these careers can be.

ACE, short for Architecture, Construction and Engineering, is a national program. In Iowa, it’s run by the construction management department at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. The school draws from a seven-county area that includes 32 school districts and 40 high schools.

Four years after its launch, ACE Academy of Eastern Iowa has active programs in 24 of those 32 districts. Student projects have included tree houses, a baseball dugout (complete with press box), a “tiny house” built from a former storage container, and a 1,500-square-foot STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) student center.

For the STEM center, the school district only had to come up with $45,000 for the $400,000-plus project because local builders and businesses gave generous in-kind donations and supplied building products. “We have quite a bit of local and regional buy-in,” said Joe Greathouse, assistant professor of construction management at Kirkwood.

The ACE program, which now serves an average of 500 students per year, can be replicated wherever a core group of builders and other construction industry professionals, suppliers, schools, and HBAs are willing to work together, Greathouse said.

Most high schools already had woodshop or technical education classes as part of their curricula. The problem, though, was that typical projects such as birdhouses and bookcases weren’t particularly inspired or challenging.

To enliven the curriculum, the college gathered a group of teachers and invited HBA representatives and industry professionals to meet with them. Together, they discussed what kinds of skills kids need, and got rid of the boring stuff.

Working with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), an organization that trains STEM teachers to encourage problem-solving strategies and critical thinking, the group created a four-year, two-pronged curriculum path. The ACE kids take construction technology, materials processing, and architecture classes the first and second years and join PLTW students for a civil engineering and architecture course during their junior years.

In their senior years, the ACE students take classes in commercial or residential construction. Both tracks offer college credit.

(Click images to enlarge).


Related Stories

Traditional Architecture With A Twist

Historic house shapes merged with modern features satisfy a variety of client wish lists while making neighbors happy

Dark Materials Tell the Story of This Home's Past

This house memorializes the owners’ previous abode, which had been destroyed by an electrical fire

Three Custom Homes Honored by Best in American Living Awards

These three custom homes stood out in the Best in American Living Awards for their site sensitivity and attention to detail


Top Articles


More in Category

COVID-19 may be easing its grip on the U.S. after a disastrous two years, but lingering supply chain disruptions have builders holding onto their pandemic business tactics

An archive of NHQA-winning companies that represent home building's best in Total Quality Management

Don’t let the current hype about single-family B2R communities obscure the need to create long-term sustainability and asset value


Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.