Business AfterSchool delivers a peek inside The M building construction

The following news update was submitted by Jesse Gilliam, Washington STEM Director of Communications and Policy, covering one of our recent Business AfterSchool workshops with DCI Engineers.

When it comes to renovating a 100-year-old building, who does the work?

Most of us could probably identify an architect and a construction worker. But how about a structural engineer, who makes sure the building structure is safe? A civil engineer, who makes sure the river doesn’t flood the basement? An AutoCAD drafter, who creates the 3-D designs of the building that come to life throughout the course of the project?

Thirty high school students learned about all these careers by talking with and learning from professionals while seeing their work in action during a March 14 tour of DCI Engineers project to renovate the former Macy’s building in downtown Spokane. The tour was part of Greater Spokane Incorporated and Spokane STEM Networks’ Business AfterSchool program, a series of industry skill workshops providing on-site awareness of Spokane’s high-demand industry sectors by highlighting new technology, research, development and innovation.

Business AfterSchool is one strong example of career connected learning, which gives Washington youth a clear pathway from their education to their career. Career Connected Learning includes exploring career interests, engaging in real world project-based learning, participating in work site tours and job shadows, taking part in Career Technical Education (CTE) classes, having access to professional mentors, doing internships and apprenticeships, and more.

The thirty high school students who attended the March 14 Business AfterSchool arrived from six different schools in the greater Spokane region – some more than two hours away — to take a peek under the hood of DCI Engineers. After a brief orientation, students walked over to the construction project, donned hard hats and safety vests, and trudged through rain and mud to take a peek at what is sure to be one of Spokane’s future flagship buildings, The M.

“I’ve never seen the inside of a building under construction before. It’s cool to see what engineers do,” said one 10th grade girl attending the event as she looked around at the newly constructed high ceilings.

The students toured the main floor, sky bridges, and the basement, with engineers pointing out methods of construction and how they overcame unforeseen obstacles along each step of the way.

Students then turned in their hardhats and returned to DCI Engineers to engage in three hands-on projects ran by the engineers. One of the highlights was a civil engineering simulation where students simulated hooking up utilities while encountering obstacles, such as huge boulders.

Along the way, engineers also shared a bit about their career pathway – what education they received and what experiences they had before coming to DCI.

“It seems awesome to be an engineer,” exclaimed one student.

The DCI Engineers site visit was one of ten Business AfterSchool events serving almost 400 students in the greater Spokane region between January and April this year. Career exploration provides a crucial link to students exploring STEM careers, allowing them to visualize themselves in jobs that may have previously seemed abstract.

If you’d like to learn more about Business AfterSchool, you may visit their website, or contact Cassidy Baumgartner at or 509.321.3621.


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