CPS students get experience in engineering over summer break

As summer break starts for Chicago public school students, some graduates are launching right into a career path — thanks to a new partnership.

Instead of a college signing day, CPS held a career signing day on Wednesday morning at the Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School.

"This is the dream that we had of transforming how we see college and career. It's not an either or. It's not one thing," said Megan Hougard, CPS Chief of College and Career Success.

Nineteen CPS graduates signed contracts to be paid trainees with JLL — a huge real estate services company.


The teens will train with crews from the international Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 for a career in engineering, and they'll work in CPS schools.

"When you look at this industry, there isn't enough of these folks coming up through the industry, so this is a program that for the future is just the start," said Ron Gregory, Executive Vice President of Public Institutions, JLL.

"This is the beginning for you, this is an investment in you, and I can't wait to see what you do. Frankly, I want to hire every one of you," CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said to the group of graduates.

As one trainee put it, this is life changing.

"I'll be learning how to be an engineer and have a career that I'm not only excited about, but proud of," said Yasmine Nelson, Peace and Education High School Graduate.

At the end of this program, the trainees will have earned an associate degree from Triton College. They'll have the option of going for a bachelor's degree at a reduced cost.