03/11/19: Michael Shilale Architects, LLP has always been a great supporter of local businesses, schools, and programs. One such program that we find particularly inspiring is the Hudson Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School or P-TECH.

This program is “focused on engaging students in hands-on, project-based learning to be successful in careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) … Local Businesses are encouraged to get involved to enable Hudson Valley P-TECH to prepare students for the workplace of today and tomorrow. The Business Partnership Program connects students with professionals in their pathway by providing students with worksite visits, job shadowing, field experiences and more.”

As one of their Business Partners, Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED, CPHC, has been acting as a connection and mentor to the students at P-TECH since it was created over four years ago.

Last May, Michael Shilale hosted P-Tech students at our office to teach them about green building technology and design. The students and our office members had a great time working together as they taught about LEED, sustainability, energy performance, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting – all things our office does and more!

More recently, Michael has been mentoring students of various years on their projects. For one group of students’ projects, building a playhouse for the students of the CABAS program, MSA thought the incorporation of Sketch-Up would greatly improve the process and actualization of the students’ vision. This relatively simple design program would be a great starting point for the students to learn, especially when continuing education and eventually, entering their careers.

As an effort to facilitate these new skills as a business partner and mentor, Michael Shilale visited the P-Tech students to continue working together on the logistics and layout of their project along with M. Andrew Lazaro, who showed them the basic steps and skills needed to create a drawing in Sketch-Up.

Tasked with learning this new program, the students worked to try and integrate Sketch-Up into their plans, some even able to start creating a detailed sketch on their own (image below)

They learned how to navigate various tools in order to draw shapes/volumes, but more importantly how to then modify and manipulate those volumes to their desired outcome. One major tool went over is the Push-Pull command, which allows shapes to go from 2D to 3D. Other topics included, but are not limited to, selecting objects, workflow and creating components, tools to modify - stretch, scale, rotate and copy – and using materials and color to both add traits to the project and help determine the best possible materials to use when building.

This student group had great ideas to make this space the most functionable and suitable for the kids who will be using it; adding chalkboard paint for children to draw on to features like moveable blocks or tick-tack-toe in order to engage the children’s senses as well as allow them to learn new games, using a retractable tarp roof to reduce roofing and lighting cost, larger doors for better access for teachers and much more. Showing these Sketch-Up skills will help students in their creating the dimensions, design, color, shape and more on their project.

Michael was impressed and proud of the progress the students made, “I challenged them to learn something new and they rose to the challenge.” 

We look forward to continuing our work together with P-TECH now and in the future and cannot wait to see the students final project!; Michael will be delivering a presentation along with Principal Natasha Shea at the NYS School Board Association Convention, This Fall.

To learn more about the P-TECH program, visit