Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2015

Sustainability Committee

Civil Engineering and Sustainability Presentation to The Academy


About a decade ago, Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson had an idea that grew into what is now The Academy high school in Santa Ana. These two local philanthropists, who are members of the board of directors of Orangewood Children’s Foundation, were concerned about the low high school graduation rates among teens in Orange County, including foster care teens served by Orangewood. They researched best practices from around the country and rallied like-minded individuals and organizations from philanthropy, business, education, and child advocacy to join their efforts. This culminated with The Academy welcoming its first class of 120 freshmen in August of 2013 and is now on track to reach a full student body of 480 by the fall of 2016. As a public charter high school, The Academy does not charge tuition fees.

The Academy - Bldg D

I was invited to visit The Academy by Mr. Nino Polizzi, Engineering and Design Teacher, who served with McDonnell Douglas/Boeing, working on a wide variety of programs including International Space Station. All students at the Academy choose either the Engineering or Design career pathway, and take courses from the following list taught by Mr. Polizzi and the other The Engineering and Design teachers: Introduction to Engineering, 3D Solid Modeling, Design for Manufacturing, Principles of Engineering, and Architecture Featuring Green Methods.

My presentation on June 3, 2015 to the freshmen class at The Academy on behalf of ASCE-OC and the Sustainability Committee covered the following topics:

  • What do Engineers do?
  • What fields of engineering are there?
  • Branches of Civil Engineering
  • Definition and goals of Sustainability
  • Bristol Street Greenroads Certification as an example of Sustainable Infrastructure
  • Green Building and the school building under construction as an example of a LEED project
  • Sustainability starts at home: home improvements to save water, energy and other resources
  • What are the benefits of being an Engineer?
  • What does it take to become a Civil Engineer?
  • University life for engineering students
  • Who hires civil engineers; public and private list?
  • Resources for information about civil engineering with links

After the presentation, we divided the class to groups of 4 to 5 students and gave each group a reduced set of Bristol Street improvements plans. We also gave each group the following list of questions and asked them to work as a team to answer these questions in 10 minutes:

  1. What is the total length of the Bristol Street project? Use the station at the beginning and end of construction for calculations (sheets 9-14).
  2. What is the total depth of the new asphalt pavement in inches? (sheet 2)
  3. What is the engineer license number of the professional engineer in responsible charge?
  4. How many new curb ramps to be constructed in this this project? (Note 8, sheets 9-14)
  5. What is the score for Bristol Street Greenroads Certification?
  6. What is the starting annual salary for civil engineer graduates in OC?

The teacher collected the answer sheets and give each group a score based on their answers. At the end I explained the answers to these questions and answered other questions asked by the students.

The Head of School, Anthony Saba, and other staff at the Academy were very appreciative and hoped for more future collaboration with ASCE-OC. For more information on The Academy, please visit their website:

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