Thornton Tomasetti Foundation

Thornton Tomasetti Foundation Awards First Scholarship to Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction Graduate

July 1, 2008 - Gar Yan Yeung, a top-ranking senior from the first graduating class of the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction (UASDC) received a $5,000 Thornton Tomasetti Foundation scholarship from Richard Tomasetti at a recent assembly at her high school in New York City.

The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation Scholarship in Honor of David A. Thurm, chief information officer of the New York Times Co. and senior vice president and chief information officer of the New York Times, was awarded to Gar Yan because of her high-level academic performance and interest in sustainable design, clearly articulated in her winning essay, which answered the question: "Why is Sustainability Important to Architecture and Engineering?"

She recently completed an internship in the New York office, where she worked every Tuesday of the academic year along with Michael Barrientos, a classmate of hers.

"We wanted this scholarship to assist a high school of great diversity-the Urban Assembly school is it," said Richard Tomasetti, founding principal in New York, who was instrumental in establishing our relationship with the innovative school established in mid-town Manhattan in September 2004 to 111 ninth graders.

UASDC, one of 16 small public high schools and junior high schools serving more than 4,300 students, is part of the Urban Assembly, a non-profit organization that creates and manages a community of New York public schools. Its founder and president is Richard Kahan.

"This is just one of the unique types of philanthropy that the foundation is currently implementing," he said "The scholarship was created in honor of David Thurm because of his tremendous interest in the content and process of architecture and engineering-particularly in sustainable design."

Thornton Tomasetti was one of the first structural engineering companies to establish a mentoring partnership with UASDC in fall 2006. At that time, Erin Pesant, project engineer, Christopher Wodzicki, senior engineer, and Lisa Davey, associate, were invited to attend design seminars, which host design professionals every Wednesday during the school year for students interested in pursuing a career in engineering, architecture or construction management.

"Students learned basic principles of architecture and engineering including scale, perspective and building models," Pesant said. One class had to build a model of a specific type of bridge, such as an arch, cable stay or cantilever bridge, assigned by the teacher using materials such as cardboard, string and Popsicle sticks. Another class built models of skyscrapers out of paper and a third designed an outdoor space for the city.

Our three engineers also have provided project critiques at end of each semester. "This year Krys and I participated in critiques of freshman, sophomores and junior class projects," she said.

This year, part of the school's first graduating senior class-including Gar Yan Yeung and Michael Barrientos-worked as interns two to three hours a week instead of taking the design seminar. As part of their internship, their school required that they attend an internal meeting, research the history of our company and learn to adhere to company policy. In addition, they were able to help us with many tasks such as filing Yankee stadium shop drawings, downloading and printing AutoCAD drawings and daily project organization.

"Allie Clarke, the program director, and the principal, Lawrence Pendergast, really reached out to us for help in setting up the internship program," Pesant said. "Most of the seniors were able to be placed in some of the top engineering and architectural firms in the city."

UASDC is dedicated to providing a college preparatory education for students with an interest in the art and science of architectural design, and for students who learn best by doing and seeing. Themes of design and construction are designed to stimulate excitement about learning by giving real-life relevance to classroom teaching and increasing students' awareness of their built environment. Core curriculum includes: Introduction to Architecture, Design Studio and Careers in Design and Construction.

About The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation

The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization established in February 2008, has two primary missions including funding fellowships, scholarships and internships for undergraduate students, and those planning to pursue graduate studies in building engineering, design or technology and providing financial support for individuals and organizations pursuing philanthropic activities related to building engineering, design or technology. Key elements of the program are college scholarships, traveling internships, and grants to, and partnerships with nonprofit organizations.


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