Founding Principal and ACE Founder and Chairman Charlie Thornton (from left), Senior Project Engineer Jesse Chrismer and Chairman and CEO Tom Scarangello at the opening reception of the Construction Industry Round Table’s spring meeting, at which Chrismer was presented with the 2013 ENR-McGraw-Hill – ACE Exemplary Mentor Award. Photo by Wayne Stocks.
When you volunteer your time to a cause that you strongly believe in, that in itself is reward enough. But when you’re recognized for your contributions with an award, not to mention two, it makes the effort especially gratifying.
Eight-year ACE Mentor Program volunteer Jesse Chrismer, a senior project engineer in New York, recently received the 2013 ENR-McGraw-Hill – ACE Exemplary Mentor Award and was named 2013 Mentor of the Year from the ACE New York affiliate.
“I am very proud to receive this recognition,” Chrismer said. “But I am not just accepting the awards for myself. There have been so many people who have made this possible, including Charlie Thornton, Aine Brazil and the rest of Thornton Tomasetti’s leadership who have faith in the program and its mentors. And I give my most sincere gratitude to the students who come each week because they believe the sessions are making them better.”
The Exemplary Mentor Award is presented annually to four individuals who are selected by a jury of their peers for contributions they have made to the program. Chrismer accepted the award at the opening reception of the Construction Industry Round Table’s (CIRT) spring meeting on April 30 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The Mentor of the Year award was presented on May 20 at the ACE Mentor Program’s 18th Annual Scholarship Luncheon in New York.
Thornton, Chrismer, Scarangello, Managing Principal Wayne Stocks and Senior Principal Mark Tamaro at the 2013 ENR-McGraw-Hill – ACE Exemplary Mentor Award ceremony.
“Jesse’s devotion to ACE has greatly increased the program’s strength and our involvement in it,” Vice Chairman Aine Brazil, who serves as the greater New York City ACE vice chair of engineering, said.
The Exemplary Mentor Award originated in fall 2011 after the ACE Mentor Program was given the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, which came with a $25,000 National Science Foundation grant to further the program’s efforts. (Founding Principal Charlie Thornton, who is founder and chairman of ACE, accepted the award from President Obama at a White House ceremony.) Each of this year’s four Exemplary Mentor Award recipients was given $2,500 in scholarship funds for their ACE affiliate that was donated by ENR-McGraw Hill.
“I am thrilled to provide additional scholarship funds to ACE-N.Y. and specifically to my student Lesther Martinez,” Chrismer said.
The three other award recipients were from Los Angeles, Calif., Indianapolis, Ind. and Frederick, Md. affiliates. All four mentors will be highlighted in an ACE annual report, which will appear in Engineering-News Record magazine later this summer and will be on a committee that will give them a role in selecting next year’s award winners.
Chrismer’s involvement with the ACE Mentor Program started with a chance encounter with its founder at a fundraiser for the program in 2005. That evening, Thornton asked the young engineer how he planned to be successful in his career. But before Chrismer could come up with a reply, Thornton provided his own, saying that success comes from finding something that you believe in and throwing yourself fully into it. Chrismer decided to give ACE a shot and joined the team associated with the construction of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for the next available mentoring season. He quickly learned that he enjoyed giving back to the industry and the community as well as teaching and helping kids—this was something that he could fully throw himself into.
Chrismer leading a mentoring session with ACE Team 17 at the Thornton Tomasetti-designed Yankee Stadium.
I find mentoring the students and thereby nurturing the future workforce to be exceptionally rewarding,” Chrismer said. “Working alongside my peers from architectural firms as well as others from the industry is also good for business development.”
In January 2008, Chrismer was assigned to be the structural site representative at Yankee Stadium, which was under construction in the Bronx, N.Y. at the time. In light of his new role, he joined the newly formed ACE team led by the designers and builders of the stadium composed entirely of students from the Bronx. Known as ACE Team 17, Chrismer has served as the group’s team leader for the past four years. Today, the group continues to meet at the stadium where the students perform exercises related to the facility, like planning an adjacent hotel, adding LEED upgrades and proposing a retractable roof and learn about the industry in the process.
Students from Chrismer’s ACE group with members of the 1998 Yankees team and others taking part in the moving ceremony at the new Yankee Stadium in November 2008.
A native Chicagoan, Chrismer is a die-hard Cubs fan, and working on the new home for the Bronx Bombers did not change that—however, working with the ACE team at the stadium did.
“The Yankees have treated ACE very well,” Chrismer said. “I didn’t become a Yankees fan because of the great plays of Jeter and Cano, but rather the exceptional way the Yankee organization gives back to the Bronx.”
One of his most memorable moments from his eight years of mentoring was the moving ceremony during which ACE students dug up dirt from the original stadium’s home plate area and pitcher’s mound and moved it to the new stadium. One student, Darlene Mateo, was picked to move the home plate and set it into its new location. On that day, Chrismer fondly remembers getting the chance to be the first to throw a pitch at the stadium (albeit without an actual ball), pretending to do a wind up on the newly installed pitcher’s mound. Every year since the completion of the facility, the students and mentors receive tickets to a game courtesy of the Yankees, during which the ACE team gets a shout-out and close-up on the video board before the first pitch is thrown.
Chrismer with wife Jahayra during the Yankee Stadium moving ceremony.
With another mentoring season wrapped up, Chrismer is already thinking of next year. “I’ve started working with the ACE scholarship committee and look forward to helping the organization beyond classroom mentoring.”
As team leader, part of Chrismer’s role has been to sustain and improve retention of students as well as the mentors who work in a high-pressure industry with demanding schedules. He urges everyone at the firm to volunteer with the program.
“I encourage everyone at Thornton Tomasetti to volunteer their time with a local ACE affiliate if possible,” Chrismer said. “It will definitely be an experience that you will find rewarding.”
— Vakaris Renetskis, Associate Editor
Click here to watch a video of Chrismer discussing careers in the AEC industry with ACE student and scholarship recipient Lesther Martinez.
Follow these topics: