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PYN Partners with Hilco Redevelopment Partners for Transformative "Exposure Bootcamp" at The Bellwether District

Over spring break 2023, the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) embarked on an inspiring partnership with The Bellwether District, an ambitious redevelopment project by Hilco Redevelopment Partners to transform the site of the former PES oil refinery in south Philadelhia. Together, they hosted an "Engineering Exposure Bootcamp," designed to ignite a passion for engineering and redevelopment among young minds.


The Engineering Exposure Bootcamp was held from Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. Each day began with a warm-up activity to get participants acclimated and ready for the hands-on experiences ahead. The program was carefully curated to provide a comprehensive understanding of the redevelopment process, with activities that fostered both engagement and learning.



1. Deconstruction and Demolition - Led by experts from Hilco, youth participated in a session exploring the historical significance and future transformation of the Bellwether District redevelopment site. The session focused on the scientific methods used in deconstruction and demolition. Participants engaged in an activity that taught them the principles of the scientific method: Observation, Question, Hypothesis, Experiment, Conclusion, and Result.


2. Remediation Experiment - Participants explored the environmental challenges posed by the site's history as the former site of the PES oil refinery. The session covered various techniques used by the environmental team to remediate the soil, ensuring it is safe for the community and future developments. This hands-on experiment provided practical insights into environmental science and safety measures.


3. Architectural Design and Development - This session delved into the ongoing development process of The Bellwether District, and the work engineers are doing to transform it from a contaminated site to a vibrant industrial and innovation campus. Participants learned about different stages of development and the importance of architectural design in creating sustainable and functional spaces.


4. Blueprint and Construction Activity - Engineers from Hilco guided participants through the intricacies of reading blueprints and transforming those plans into tangible structures. Using Lego sets, participants built miniature buildings, translating conceptual ideas into physical models. This activity highlighted the importance of precision and creativity in construction.


Engaging Executive Insights and Training Sessions

In addition to hands-on activities, the bootcamp featured in-person presentations and training sessions from several executives and professionals at Hilco Redevelopment Partners. These sessions provided a unique opportunity for interns to learn from industry leaders about various aspects of redevelopment and career pathways. Highlights included:

  • Executive Talks: Featuring insights from Roberto Perez (CEO), Benjamin Spera (COO), Andrew Chused (CIO), Julianna Connolly (EVP, Environmental Remediation), and others, sharing their expertise and experiences.

  • Training Tuesdays: Sessions on global development perspectives, architectural design, deconstruction techniques, financial literacy, LinkedIn and resume building, internship to employment transitions, and effective communication strategies.



Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers

The partnership between PYN and Hilco Redevelopment Partners exemplifies a commitment to empowering youth through education and real-world experiences. By exposing participants to various facets of engineering and redevelopment, the bootcamp aimed to inspire the next generation of engineers, architects, and environmental scientists.


The Bellwether District, a symbol of transformation and innovation, provided the perfect backdrop for this immersive educational experience. As these young minds embark on their future careers, the skills and knowledge gained from this bootcamp will undoubtedly serve as a solid foundation.


Looking Forward

PYN and Hilco Redevelopment Partners look forward to continuing their collaboration and expanding opportunities for youth engagement and education. Together, they are paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future, one innovative program at a time.

For more information about the Engineering Exposure Bootcamp and upcoming programs, stay tuned to PYN and The Bellwether District's announcements. Let's continue to build a future where youth are empowered to lead and innovate!



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