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June 1, 2016

Middle School Students at PS 7 in East Harlem Present Sustainable Design Projects at New York City Department of Design and Construction’s “Young Engineers Showcase”

Part of the DDC STEAM program to stimulate interest in careers in the built environment


Shavone Williams

Dan Leibel

New York, NY – The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) today hosted its Young Engineers Showcase at P.S.7 in East Harlem, highlighting the work of 30 middle school students in the school’s STEAM educational initiative, a DDC program that introduces City students to the fields of science, technology, engineering, architecture/art and math.

“In support of Mayor de Blasio’s vision for quality education, DDC’s STEAM initiative presents students with an enhanced knowledge base about the built environment,” said DDC Commissioner Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora. “By exposing students at this age to sustainable engineering concepts, we give them a head start and help introduce them to an expanding industry that is addressing several of the world’s most critical issues, such as global climate change. There is tremendous opportunity in young people to ignite a passion that may launch a career in the fields of engineering and architecture.”

While the traditional education curriculum teaches general concepts in math and science, DDC’s STEAM initiative, a leader in publically funded extra-curricular education, exposes NYC students to sustainable design in architecture, civic engineering and responsible city planning. DDC established STEAM in 2014 in cooperation with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) and the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to expand opportunities for NYC youth – specifically women and minorities, who are underrepresented in the scientific and technological fields.

Students in STEAM at P.S. 7 completed the “Engineering is Elementary: Don’t Runoff” curriculum, created by the Museum of Science in Boston, which highlights environmentally conscious design, the importance of circumventing pollution and methods to prevent polluted stormwater from reaching natural sources of water in the City. The curriculum introduces students to new and emerging technologies that will help counter runoff and communicates the importance of caring for large bodies of water in close proximity to the City, such as the East River, Hudson River, Lower New York Bay and Atlantic Ocean, which can be easily polluted by stormwater that can mix with sewage or street litter.

The Young Engineers Program has been presented to 235 middle school students in communities that struggle to expose kids to STEAM education. The pilot program was launched in March 2015 at M.S. 22 in the South Bronx, a renewal school where 100% of students qualify for free lunch, 21% are special education students and 21% are English language learners. Overall, DDC’s STEAM division has reached 1,025 students since its inception in November 2014.

In March, DDC’s STEAM initiative hosted ‘Introduce a Girl to AEC Day,’ which gathered 20 female high school students from Queens for a day of learning about the built environment. The event was formed in an effort to promote architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) related disciplines to young women. Currently, women comprise only 34% of the total number of employed professionals with doctorates in the field of engineering, according to the National Science Foundation. Males are eight times more likely to enter college with a plan to study engineering than their female peers according to the Higher Education Research Institute.

DDC STEAM will begin an intensive college internship on June 6. The duration of the program lasts ten weeks. These students will be assigned to a personal mentor in a specific DDC unit in divisions including administration, architecture, engineering, STEAM initiatives, infrastructure, law/general counsel, program management and public buildings. A six-week-long high school internship begins on July 1, in conjunction with DYCD and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Both internship programs serve as a pipeline into design and construction fields.

“The Young Engineers Program plays a critical role in expanding access to STEAM education and exposing students in underrepresented communities to its practical applications in a hands-on and engaging way,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “STEAM instruction prepares students to be critical thinkers, leverages their creativity and is important preparation for the competitive 21st century job market. I’m grateful to the Department of Design and Construction for supporting this program and I look forward to our continued partnership to promote and expand STEAM education.”

"STEM skills are valuable building blocks for a successful future," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "The Young Engineers program gives young New Yorkers an opportunity to explore these skill sets and build a valuable background for good careers. I applaud the work of the Department of Design and Construction, the Department of Education, and The Department of Youth and Community Development in helping the next generation of New Yorkers prepare for success."

“We need more project-based STEAM education that puts our students’ minds to work solving real-world problems,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I congratulate the students showcasing their work at P.S. 7 and thank the Departments of Design and Construction, Education, and Youth and Community Development for pioneering this STEAM education initiative.”

“DYCD is proud to continue this inter-agency collaboration with DDC and our community partners in bringing the exciting world of engineering to classrooms across New York City,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong. “This great program exposes our young people to the high-demand STEAM subjects, giving them hands-on opportunities. I congratulate the young engineers at PS 7, whose exposure to the jobs of the future builds on the growing momentum of Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture/Arts and Mathematics activities in afterschool.”

“The Young Engineers Program is important because it gives equal opportunity to students in communities where they might not be exposed to architecture, engineering and construction, which are fields that are growing exponentially, can provide jobs down the road and are essential to the way New York City functions,” said Lee Llambelis, DDC’s Deputy Commissioner of Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives. “Our hope is that these students will become future architects, engineers and built environment professionals who will implement these new techniques to make our city a better place to live.”

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $10 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit