Nima Mahmoodi, a Lafayette High School senior who wants to be an engineer, said that most of the time when he wants to learn something, he has to look for a "textbook answer."
But during a recent visit to the renovation in process at the University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium, Nima said he met professionals who could give him "a visual answer" about what they were doing.
Nima, 18, went on the visit with an after-school group at Lafayette called the ACE Mentor Program. ACE stands for Architecture, Construction and Engineering.
In the ACE program, architects, engineers and construction professionals volunteer to mentor students.
Some students have learned basics, such as how to wire a light fixture and drive a nail.
But the students also get to design complex hypothetical projects that they present at a gala.
Last year, some students designed a coffee shop. This year, projects are based on the Commonwealth Stadium renovation.
One group of students is trying to imagine what a retail store would look like at Commonwealth, including where it would be and what it would sell, said architect Stacey Wiseman. Wiseman is the student and mentor coordinator for the local affiliate of the national ACE Mentor Program.
Nima said he was helping design a hypothetical parking lot that would facilitate traffic flow.
Lafayette is the only school in the Fayette County district with ACE. Lafayette was a fit for the mentoring group because the school offered a pre-engineering program, Wiseman said.
Gene Toth, director of the Lafayette pre-engineering program, said the after-school group gives his students "a hands-on chance to actually meet with architects and engineers that do this on a daily basis."
At Lafayette, the group meets at least 12 to 15 times a year.
Last year, the group went to see UK dorms under construction.
"The benefit of any of our site tours is to see a building as it is being constructed," Wiseman said. "Once you take away the drywall, you see all the wiring that goes in, ductwork, the structure."
Senior Elizabeth Cooper, 17, said she saw the biggest benefit of the mentor program as "just being surrounded by people who have the same interest as you."
Many students in the ACE Mentor Program also have an interest in math and science, she said.
Nathan Sendlein, 18, a senior, said he was leaning toward becoming a mechanical engineer.
He said the after-school program had given him a better idea of the type of engineering he would pursue.
"It narrows the spectrum of choices," he said.