AIAspire Pays It Forward to Next Gen
Following popular Leadership Institute and Master Class programs, AIA Illinois brought nearly twenty architecture students from six schools around the state to Springfield for the second year of AIAspire, created exclusively for AIAS members who aspire to become leaders in the field of architecture.
The two-day workshop kicked off with an Opening Session featuring Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), who serves on the state's Bicentennial Commission and on legislative caucuses including Historic Preservation and Route 66, as well as the House Tourism Committee. That led off the next session on what it means to be a Citizen Architect and advocate for the profession as a future practicing architect.
Presenter Jeremy Gentile, Assoc. AIA, thought quickly to provide an alternative to the planned sketching session outside the State Capitol, when that day's forecast turned from grey to rain. The students were split up into groups and were asked to do figure drawing, with students posing in one-minute sessions. "It was a great ice breaker!," says Mary Young, AIA Illinois' Program Director. "I heard a lot of laughter during the exercise and it really bonded everyone quickly."
"Not everyone who gets a degree in architecture obtains a license, and not everyone who has a degree in architecture and is licensed works steadily in the profession for all or most of their career" was the impetus for the next session. Although architecture students often don't see any other path other than working at a firm, the next session featured architects who serve outside of the traditional path taking the stage in a panel discussion. Students heard from career architects who have various roles such as permitting and zoning for a municipality, making sure accessibility requirements are met through the Capital Development Board, saving historic buildings and helping create plans via the Historic Preservation Agency, and even serving as a Battalion Chief for a fire department.
The next day's sessions started with a discussion about how to lead AIAS chapters, and allowed the students to share successes.
Practical knowledge continued as architects Jim Maciejewski, Todd Hannah, Chuck Pell and Leanne Meyer-Smith talked about how to prepare for an interview and how to best utilize your portfolio for your own individual strengths.
Chuck Pell, AIA, was one of the professionals who talked about Interview and Portfolio Tips. "I'm not sure I properly thanked the students for energizing me with their enthusiasm and questions or letting them know how envious I am about the general energy of architecture at this time and wishing I could trade places with them," he said.
Students also visited the Architects' Corner at the Old State Capitol, with a brief talk by Anthony Rubano of IHPA about the history and renovation of the building, as well as the new UIS Student Union, a LEED-Gold building which opened this year.
Every attendee who filled out the survey afterwards said they would recommend it to a fellow student. "I love how inspiring the presenters were [and their] personal anecdotes," wrote one. "It's a lot of fun and don't be a afraid to talk to people. Focus on the content because it will teach you a lot of new things in our field," said another.
Applications for 2019 AIAspire will be available before the end of the spring semester.