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June 2, 2016

Middle School Students at IS 49 in Staten Island 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 I.S. 49 in Staten Island, 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. The event marks the first time DDC’s STEAM initiative hosted the program in Staten Island.

“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 publicly 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 I.S. 49 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.”

I want to thank Commissioner Peña-Mora and the men and women of DDC for this innovative program that leverages their expertise in architecture, engineering, and city planning by exposing middle school students to various activities in fields they might not learn in school,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo."Science and technology can be fun, and I am hopeful this program will lead to a new passion for some students.”

“Keeping up in today’s world means not only mastering reading, writing and arithmetic but also introducing and exposing students to programs that bring together science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM programs,” said Councilmember Deborah Rose. “All of the STEAM programs I have seen are not only educational, but fun for the students. Programs like this Young Engineer’s Program ensure that our education is on the cutting edge, and they pave the way for a lifelong interest in learning that can lead to fulfilling careers in tomorrow’s competitive world.”

“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 I.S. 49, 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.”

“The opportunity for Intermediate School 49 students to partner with The Young Engineers Program and DDC further strengthens our commitment to STEAM education and allows for real-life hands on experiences for our students,” said DOE Superintendent Anthony Lodico. “It is powerful learning and exposes students to career paths and education in engineering through application and critical thinking.” 

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