CH2M HILL Employee Mentors Students

Amy Gao helped New York City middle schoolers win an Engineers Week competition

CH2M HILL, a global full-service consulting, design, construction and operations firm, is dedicated to strengthening non-profit organizations and addressing critical issues, like access to clean, safe drinking water. To support the firm’s commitment to mentoring students, CH2M HILL engineer Amy Gao assisted East New York City middle school students in the Engineers Week “Future City Competition.” Amy helped the students design a city using the SimCity software, write an essay and abstract about the city and build a scale model of the city that was presented to a panel of engineer judges on the day of the competition.

As a mentor, Gao provided advice, guidance and technical assistance as the students worked on the various project components. She met with the students every month to talk about various aspects of engineering, which included transportation, power supply, water supply, environmental considerations, manufacturing, etc. In between visits, Gao emailed research ideas or other helpful tips to help students model their future city.

“At the end of each visit, the students and teachers were always so thankful for my help. It was even inspiring to learn that one male student gave up on being on the basketball team at school to be part of the engineering team for the competition,” Gao shares.

The requirements for the project included that the city models be made from all-recycled material. The students were able to make their houses out of school milk cartons, pizza boxes and other recyclable materials and did not spend any of their $100 budget. Their project was called “The New City,” a futuristic city on an island with flying cars and stacks that filtered the air. It was entirely powered by water turbines. The students won the AECOM Most Sustainable Water Use Award for their innovative design that used water turbines to harvest energy from the ocean to power the entire city.


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