Academy Partners make a lasting impact in the lives of MNPS students

The value of PENCIL Partners and their work through the Academies of Nashville is truly remarkable. Just ask Saad Rajput, a senior mechanical engineering major at Lipscomb University. A proud Metro Nashville Public Schools alumnus, Saad attended John Overton High School (JOHS), where he was a student in the school’s Academy of Engineering. His experiences at JOHS reveal the true impact of Academy PENCIL Partners and their work offering MNPS students with mentorship, industry field trips, job shadows, and hands-on learning experiences in AP and Dual Enrollment classes.

Saad’s senior year project involved building balsa wood aircraft structures and making final presentations. The project gave students at JOHS the opportunity to interact with and receive direct feedback from industry professionals like Marc Pearson, a Senior Principal at Stantec and PENCIL Partner. Reflecting on Marc’s presence at the presentations, Saad said, “He was so involved with everybody. He was there walking around between the tables and providing encouragement to students. He stopped at my table and congratulated me for my project as well.” This meeting, however, would not be his last with the Senior Principal at Stantec.

Saad’s interest in the field of engineering grew after graduating from high school, and his educational ambitions led him to Lipscomb University. A phone call from his former CTE Engineering teacher, Sally Spears, with a ticket to the American Council of Engineering Companies Engineering Excellence Awards further changed the trajectory of his educational career. Saad gladly accepted the ticket. “I did not want to miss the chance to attend the ceremony. Nominated companies would go and give updates about their projects.” Marc Pearson of Stantec was also in attendance with current students.

At the awards ceremony, Saad listened to the incredible updates from engineering companies and spoke to Marc. That conversation led to further communication down the road and eventually to an internship with Stantec. When asked about the impact of Marc Pearson in his life, Saad said, “He is not just my boss or the guy who hired me. He is my mentor.”

Saad currently serves as president of Lipscomb University’s student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He, like thousands of MNPS high school students, benefited from direct access to industry leaders. These experiences have helped students develop their talents and interests in ways that make them even more competitive in the job market.

Saad’s work at Stantec with Marc Pearson and Joshua Pendergrass, who serves as a Senior Chemical Engineer, has also made him an advocate for mentoring opportunities for high schoolers. “I am a firm believer that more companies should be PENCIL Partners. Partners take time out of their daily lives to work with students. They may not know what it means to students, but because Marc Pearson decided to invest in PENCIL and MNPS, I am where I am today. I personally plan to engage with PENCIL and invest in students so they can achieve their passions and dreams.”