November 11, 2019 UT Initiates Career Program for Area High Schools

Group of students at SDHS ACE Program
Students in the South-Doyle High School ACE Mentor Program with teacher Jeff Bryant (back row) and mentor Cara Knapp, principal, oysk3 architects (center).

High school students in the Knoxville area now have a new way to connect to careers. This fall, leaders in the College of Architecture and Design, Institute of Agriculture Construction Science Program and Tickle College of Engineering initiated the formation of the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Knoxville. The program connects high school students with careers in architecture, construction and engineering, helping them achieve their future career aspirations.

The Greater Knoxville program is an affiliate of the national ACE Mentor Program of America. The program’s success relies on visionary teachers, curious students and local professionals who commit to excite and mentor students throughout the school year.

South-Doyle High School logo and image

The first high school in the Knoxville area to host an ACE program is South-Doyle High School. The program began in fall 2019 and is led by teacher Jeff Bryant. It includes a dozen students representing all grades, who meet regularly with mentors from local architecture, construction and engineering firms.

“This is much more than a lecture experience,” said Bryant. “Our students are learning by doing, and our mentors are guiding them as they learn the entire process of designing and building a project. This year, students will design, develop and conceptually build a three-business commercial space on an empty lot near south Knoxville. Because of the ACE program, students will learn architecture, construction and engineering principles and be more prepared for jobs or college.”

In addition to gaining exposure to careers and real-world experience, high school students in ACE programs also can receive scholarships for college. In November 2019, the inaugural scholarship for the Greater Knoxville program was established by A. Gordon Heins III, president and chairman, A.G. Heins Company. This scholarship, named after the founder of A.G. Heins Company Inc., and others will be awarded to students at South-Doyle High School in spring 2020.

“UT is committed to serving our communities and making an impact in the state of Tennessee,” said Scott Poole, dean, College of Architecture and Design. “This program connects UT with high school students in our community in a new way and gives hands-on experience in three critical fields.” Learn more about the benefits of the ACE Mentor Program.

The ACE Mentor Program of Greater Knoxville is led by a board of directors including Poole and Bryant along with Chris Cherry, assistant professor, and Dr. Janis Terpenny, dean, Tickle College of Engineering; Charlie Parker, director of the UT Construction Science program; and Chris Tucker, facilitator, and Dr. Keith Wilson, director, Knox County Schools Career and Technical Education.

Board members also include Greg Armour, principal, George Armour Ewart Architects; Gary Bergeron, principal and co-owner, Kelso-Regen Associates; Shannon Elliott, project architect, Johnson Architecture; Gordon Heins, president and chairman, A.G. Heins Company; DeMauri Mumphrey, student, College of Architecture and Design; Pamela Treacy, director of advancement, College of Architecture and Design; Tzu Chen, ACE Mentor Program of America.

The ACE Mentor Program of America was founded in 1994 by the integrated design and construction industry to meet its future workforce needs. Today, ACE’s 74 affiliates operate in 36 states. ACE relies on more than 4,000 mentors across the U.S. who serve more than 10,000 students, 2/3 of whom come from minority and underserved communities. Since its founding, ACE has awarded nearly $18 million in scholarships, and in 2018, 750 students received $2 million in scholarships.  Learn more at Download the fact sheet.

For information on donating to the scholarship fund or general operating fund for the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Knoxville, contact Greg Armour,, treasurer, ACE Mentor Program of Greater Knoxville.  For information on serving as a mentor for the South-Doyle High School program, contact Jeff Bryant at