A Look at C*NECT’s Mentor-Protégé Program

Civiltech celebrates the partnerships created within mentor-protégé programs. We have participated in many mentor-protégé contractual relationships on CDOT and IDOT projects, and on Illinois Tollway’s Partnering for Growth (P4G) program. All of these programs are designed to enhance the professional service capabilities of a DBE or Veteran-owned protégé firm in specific project tasks and business related activities and to assist them in achieving a certain goal such as strengthening a certain department, enhancing their technical capabilities, or getting pre-qualified in an IDOT category.

We view these opportunities as a chance to partner with firms that are seeking mentoring with robust and meaningful participation in a project. Also, we value the mentor-protégé collaboration as a two-way street and recognize the benefits we receive from the protégé firm, including project support, new perspective, and relationship building. In this article, we are highlighting the Chicago Neighborhood Engineering and Construction Team (C*NECT) mentor-protégé program.

“Ardmore Roderick appreciates the opportunity to participate in the mentor-protégé program for the C*NECT project with Civiltech Engineering. Civiltech has been a tremendous mentor and leader to help foster the proper development and training of our construction inspection staff. They have created an inclusive culture that allows the entire team to benefit from their experience.”

– Michael J. Burns, P.E.
Director of Transportation Construction Services, Ardmore Roderick

C*NECT’s Mentor-Protégé Program

While we have participated in a number of mentor-protégé relationships over the years, one of the largest programs is through C*NECT. Civiltech and Infrastructure Engineering, Inc. (IEI) are partnered as the Prime consultant, with 10 additional specialized subconsultants enhancing the C*NECT team. Three of these firms; CKL Engineers, LLC (WBE); APS Consulting, Inc. (MBE); and Ardmore Roderick (MBE); are providing services as protégé firms within the mentor-protégé structure.

Satish Kunnassery (APS Consulting) takes measurements for proposed sidewalk improvements.

Our teaming relationships with these three firms go far beyond a contractual percentage of work. The overall collaboration and the roles of each firm are defined according to goals that each firm hopes to achieve. The goals are prepared with direct input from each firm and customized to benefit each firm uniquely. Goals vary by firm and include training in a variety of subjects such as hands-on engineering job training, project management, and financial management. In addition to overall firm goals, each protégé firm includes learning objectives for specific staff members in their plan.

The goals and objectives remain fluid and flexible. Civiltech/IEI as the mentoring firms meet quarterly with the protégé firms. At these meetings, the current work is assessed to ensure that objectives are being met. The protégé firms’ roles can be adjusted if they wish to pursue a different objective in the next quarter.

Benefits of the C*NECT Mentor-Protégé Program

Protégé firms benefit from the program in a variety of ways. Of utmost importance is the hands-on job training for their engineering staff. Through the C*NECT program, the protégé firms build strong working experience in areas such as construction inspection, ADA compliance, and Phase II roadway design, making it easier to pursue their own separate City contracts in the future. We also support these firms at a corporate level in whatever capacity they feel they can benefit, including best practices in managing the administrative requirements of working with the City or learning how to market themselves for future City work.

Jonathan Hardy (Ardmore Roderick) overseeing CDOT In-House Construction concrete crews pouring ADA compliant sidewalk ramps.

The mentor firms also benefit from the program. By helping protégé subconsultants train their entry level staff, together we ensure that we are not only building a talented and highly competent C*NECT team, but are helping create strong partnerships with firms that we would be happy to team with on future opportunities.

The C*NECT team has the privilege of working on every corner of every neighborhood throughout the City of Chicago. We believe that to provide this work, the team must be as inclusive as possible and truly represent the fabric of the City. The mentor-protégé program helps create this dynamic and diverse collaboration of professionals.