Department of Design and Construction311Search all websites

DDC STEAM Programs Grow Interest in Technical Career Fields, Study Finds

December 21, 2018

Contact: Ian Michaels, 718-391-1589,

Long Island City, NY – The latest study of NYC middle school students in DDC STEAM educational programs has found that students who completed the Young Engineers Program under STEAM demonstrated a greater interest in technical career fields, increased confidence in their ability to do math and an increased belief that learning science can be useful to solve problems later in life.

Middle schoolers who participate in DDC STEAM programs consistently display a greater interest in technical career fields

The study of sixteen 6th, 7th and 8th graders who completed the summer program at MS 88 in Brooklyn was conducted by Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, a science educator and founder of Storefront Science, who holds an Ed.D. in International Educational Development with a specialization in Peace Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.M in Science Education and a B.A. in Biology.

At the beginning of each six-week program students were given a pre-questionnaire with 21 statements asking them to rank from 1 – 4 their affinity toward and perceived capability in STEAM career fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Architecture and Math). At the end of the program students were asked to complete the same questionnaire. An evaluation that compared both questionnaires showed that following the STEAM programming the students demonstrated:

  • A 18% increase in interest in STEAM career fields;
  • A 13% increase in the belief that students similar to them can become engineers and architects;
  • A 10% increase in the belief that science is useful in helping to solve the problems of everyday life;
  • A 10% decrease in the belief that math is hard; and
  • A 10% decrease in the belief that engineering and architecture are fields for other people, not for underrepresented students like those in the program.

“The results of this survey of our Young Engineers Program underscores that middle school students in under resourced communities can thrive when given exposure to the STEAM careers. These are fields with dismally low numbers of minorities and women. DDC STEAM is looking to change the landscape of these fields for generations to come” said Lee Llambelis, DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives.

"With each successive program, we see an increase in student interest in STEM fields and a growth in their self-confidence. The DDC STEAM program is ideal for transforming the lives of under-served children and should be replicated at a national level," said Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone.

DDC’s STEAM education initiative, established in 2014 to increase interest among students in technical career fields, works with Title I public schools in every borough. For students in grades six through eight, STEAM facilitates the Young Engineers Program, using the agency’s “Building the Future” curriculum to teach concepts such as the structural characteristics of 3D shapes, bridge engineering, constructing with I-beams, creating building models and sustainable technologies such as bioswales, tower gardens and green roofs.

DDC also holds professional development sessions for NYC public school teachers to instruct them on how to implement the curriculum in their classrooms. In those training sessions, middle school teachers perform many of the Young Engineers activities, including creating model buildings, infrastructure structures, homes, bridges, public areas and streetscapes to demonstrate design and construction methods that can better withstand climate change and rising sea levels.

More than 2,800 students at 57 schools have been served by STEAM since its inception, including 1,236 at 41 schools in grades six through eight. Since 2015, 741 students at 27 different sites have participated in the Young Engineers Program through STEAM.

Other STEAM programs for public school students include the ACE Mentor Program, Introduce a Girl to Architecture, Engineering and Construction and high school summer internships. STEAM also helps to coordinate DDC’s long-time college and graduate summer internship program.

For more information on STEAM program see its videos here.

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 long-term vision 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, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 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