Press Release: 05.03.2012

Building Futures

Empowering Students with Information Opens Door for Tomorrow’s Builders

McCarthy is a staunch believer in empowering and educating students about careers in the Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry. McCarthy’s Southeast Division exemplifies the company’s commitment to this charge through its involvement with The Atlanta Center for Creative Inquiry (ACCI). In 2004, in response to shockingly low numbers of minorities and women attending college and working professionally in architecture, business owner and professional architect Oscar Harris began mentoring Atlanta’s youth in creative design. With the support of colleagues and the Atlanta Public Schools, the ACCI was founded. Run in conjunction with Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture and support from local businesses, the ACCI partnership strives to fill the workforce pipeline with future architects, engineers and construction professionals.

The ACCI program occurs over 10 weeks during the spring semester, and sessions include sketch development, solving design challenges, and lectures taught by paid professors. Mentors accompany students on tours of local college campuses, construction sites, and architectural and engineering firms. Volunteers from the AEC industry interact with students to offer assistance on refining long-term goals, including high school graduation, scholarships, internships, college selection and course of study. A family-oriented awards celebration occurs at the conclusion of the program, which includes student constructed 3D models and oral presentations to a panel of professional judges. This experience affords students the opportunity to develop confidence, showcase knowledge gained from the program, and enhance their public speaking skills.

Lee Jarboe, director of client services in McCarthy’s Southeast Division, is the 2011-2012 Chairperson of the Board for ACCI. A member of the organization since its humble beginnings, Jarboe has played an integral role in shaping the organization from grassroots work to providing one-on-one mentor assistance. Over the years, McCarthy employees have enjoyed a number of opportunities to connect with students, from judging graduation projects to running internship programs. These interactions not only benefit ACCI students, but also give McCarthy employees a chance to connect with Generation Y and discuss their passion for building.

A Critical Need
McCarthy’s involvement with ACCI stems beyond a company interest. The organization is a response to a community-wide need, and one McCarthy fully supports. A study by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that by 2018, 8 million jobs in the U.S. economy will require a college degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). These statistics point to a void in the marketplace, one that ACCI is actively trying to fill.

Furthering this push to engage youth is a 2008 statistic that enrollment in undergraduate engineering programs included only 15% women, 9% Hispanic and 6% African-American students. ACCI seeks to help reverse these trends by making the AEC industry accessible and enticing to all students. Members of the organization are called upon to mentor, educate and foster creative abilities in youth with the ultimate goal of creating greater diversity in the fields of architecture, engineering and construction.  

A Continued Connection
This year marks ACCI’s 9th year of mentoring high school students in its after-school educational and career exposure program at Benjamin E. Mays High School. McCarthy looks forward to continuing its involvement in the program with Gary McGrath, McCarthy project director, serving as a mentor and featured industry speaker. Through our continued involvement, McCarthy looks to further the program’s four primary goals and objectives:

  1. To confront the issue of under-representation of women and people of color in architectural, engineering and construction professions;
  2. To address the low percentage of youth from high-need communities that enroll in post-secondary education programs;
  3. To help students connect creative talents to various careers, encouraging them to explore ways to cultivate and utilize their skills in a way that is passionate for them; and
  4. To provide mentoring that connects students to industry professionals with diverse personal and professional backgrounds.

To learn more about ACCI and mentorship opportunities, please visit

sign up to receive insights

Sign up to receive McCarthy Insights