Department of Design and Construction311Search all websites

Four Young Engineer Programs Launched in Collaboration with the Child Center of NY

On December 7th, 2020, the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s STEAM Team partnered with the Child Center of NY to implement the DDC Virtual Young Engineers Program "Building the Future" at four of their sites in Manhattan and Queens. Founded in 1953 as a children’s counseling center, the Child Center of NY is a powerful community presence throughout the city. With more than 50 locations and 100 programs in NYC’s toughest, most under-served communities, their results-oriented professionals make a difference for more than 37,000 children and their families each year. The programs are DYCD-funded and staffed by youth work professionals; licensed teachers and other education professionals; and community members who are leaders in their fields, thereby providing local youth with relatable role models.

Child Center of NY sites implementing the virtual Young Engineers Program:

  • Catherine & Count Basie Middle School (M.S. 72) - Queens
  • P.S./I.S. 217 - Roosevelt Island, Manhattan
  • Parsons Community School - Queens
  • M.S. 226 - Queens

Prior to the launch of the program, Tatiana Vargas and Gemelli Briceño, DDC STEAM Initiatives Program Coordinators, led a virtual professional development training for Child Center of NY educators to familiarize them with the curricula and to provide pointers on how to best present the material. Over the course of 10 weeks, students will learn what it takes to build sustainable, resilient structures. They will also learn concepts such as tension, compression, 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.

The students were tasked with creating a bridge spanning across two table edges using plastic straws, masking and packing tape. Several students improvised and built their bridge span across a chair. This activity helps students identify and understand how tension and compression forces impact physical structures. They tested the structural integrity of their bridges by adding marbles in a cup on the bridge. The goal was to build a structure that would not collapse with the weight of the marbles. The marbles serve to simulate the weight placed on bridges by vehicles and other heavy equipment. They were also tasked with creating a public building for their community and explain how their building would serve the public. Among the public buildings considered were: Police/Fire Station, Library or Court House. The students were also charged with developing and building out the surrounding areas and infrastructure as well, and to select at least one green technology to add to their building structures. Students were able to identify an I-beam and explain what it does and also identify green technologies such as a bioswale and explain how bioswales help prevent storm water runoff.

“It is critically important for our students to be introduced to the STEAM professions, and in particular careers in Engineering, Architecture and Construction. These are the careers of the future. If our young people are to compete in a global 21st century economy, they need to be prepared,” said Lee Llambelis, DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives.

a model city

A model city made by a student, part of the Virtual Young Engineers Program


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