CTA Exposes Students to Trades Careers through Virtual Event

CTA and Walsh-Fluor continue to expose young people to careers in the skilled trades through the ACE Trades Day event.

Originally published on citizennewspapergroup.com/

Chicago Transit Authority, along with Walsh-Fluor, continues to expose young people to careers in the skilled trades through the ACE Trades Day. This year, it was a virtual event where more than 30 students watched testimonials from tradespeople who are working on CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Project. Students were able to hear firsthand what it is like to work on the project and how the workers started in the industry.

CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization Project consists of constructing a new by-pass north of Belmont Station, followed by a Red and Purple line track structure rebuild, between Belmont and Newport/ Cornelia. The project will also completely rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations. It will include tracks, support structures and the installation of a new signal system, between Belmont and Howard.

Tammy Chase, the spokesperson for RPM, said the goal of ACE Trades Day is to bring opportunity and information to Chicago Public School students. She said with a virtual learning situation, there are challenges with letting students know about what types of careers are out there and how to access them.

Chase said it is good for students to hear from people who work in these fields. And, also find out how to get into an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program. Chase said there are a lot of people in need of help and who need doors to open.

“We have built this major workforce development effort, and that includes creating new training and job opportunities for people, and that includes communities across the city,” she said. “It’s more about than just finding people jobs, we want to help, through the RPM Project, help people get the skills they need so they can have careers.”
Alondra Santos is an intern at Walsh-Fluor and a former ACE mentee. Santos got involved in the ACE Mentoring program while attending Jones College Prep. Santos said the experience was great and enabled her to learn about architecture, construction and engineering.
“All the mentors were very insightful and were able to answer all our questions. My favorite part was working alongside my mentors for the ACE projects and seeing their approach to what we were working on,” she said.

Santos, a third-year student at University of Illinois at Chicago, said her experience as an ACE Mentee allowed her to explore different industries. She said it also helped in her decision to study civil engineering. Santos added being in the program had other positive effects. First, communicating with people in the construction, architecture and engineering fields became more comfortable for her. She said the program also helped her to transition into an office environment.

“The ACE program is beneficial because they help set the foundation for a successful career in any of those industries. ACE also offers graduating seniors scholarships and helps students secure internships,” she said.

Santos added the ACE community has been helpful and enabled her to build a network and receive guidance from a mentor. She said other students who are interested in architecture, construction and engineering should participate in the program because it gives them an opportunity to explore those industries and see how other disciplines work together on projects.

Santos has been working on the asset management team at Walsh-Fluor as an intern. “I have been lucky to get a great understanding of the project through the work I have done,” she said. “I’m hoping to continue to gain experience in the construction management environment.”

CTA continues to provide opportunities through networking events with Walsh-Fluor, Construction Talks webinars, the CTA Elevating Future Scholarship Program and virtual job fairs.