Thomas M. Laird Jr. was a founding member of the ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland, an affiliate of the ACE Mentor Program of America. Since 2008, the ACE program in Cleveland has provided mentors to students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District who are interested in pursuing careers in the architecture, construction and engineering fields.
As part of his efforts, Laird organized the principals of leading Cleveland design and construction firms, providing the foundation for the program’s outreach efforts in area high schools, which begin with mentoring and continues in the form of scholarships and grants that allow students in the program to continue their advancement in the industry.
Laird was not only critical in helping to raise funds for the organization’s scholarship program but also in convincing Kent State University, Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University to provide matching scholarships for CMSD students interested in entering the architecture and engineering fields.
Over its nearly five-year existence, Laird has led the effort to bring the ACE program from a few participating first in its inception to a current pool of 35 participating firms in the architecture, engineering and construction fields.
Together, the participating firms provide more than 50 volunteers who serve as student mentors. For the 2012-13 school year, the plans include programs at West Technical High School, East Technical High School, John Hay School of Architecture and Design and James Ford Rhodes High School.
Mentors introduce students to a broad range of people, projects and career possibilities within their field of interest. Through personal example, explanation and tours of offices and construction sites, ACE mentors educate students about career paths and professional life in the design and construction professions.
How to reach: Ace Mentor Program of Cleveland, www.acementor.org