How to Support the Next Generation of Architects

I had the honor of being a guest critic at Platt Technical High School in Milford, CT this morning. I met with Ms. Bruno and her Sophomores and Juniors to review their end of the year projects in Sustainable Architecture. This experience really prompted a whole hive of thoughts that I just can’t shake and would love to share.

1st – These students really were thoughtful, insightful, clever, and grateful for the opportunity to present their hard work to someone that cared. It reminded me of my own high school experience as an intern and how nice it felt to be validated in something I put my passion and energy into.

2nd – I totally appreciate the teachers. Students are not all easy, students are not all having a good day, but students are human and need an adult figure that cares and pushes them. it was great to see that happening in person.

3rd – These were technical students. Not all will make it to College, but honestly, that’s ok! College is not appropriate for everyone. These students are getting guidance and where appropriate, placed in jobs that may end up as careers in surveying, drafting, interior design, and even have a great background for contracting.

4th – My next thought was how to help. While there, I offered to attend at least one class each year to offer a professional eye and support. But if at all possible in the future, I endeavor to be able to offer a summer internship in years to come. I will do my best to see if there are any Architecture or interiors firms further up the line that might be able to use their assistance sooner than later. There is an amazing Work to Learn component of the curriculum that allows the students to actually work at a firm during the school days for credit. Any support I can offer in connecting them to my network of building and design professionals and their networks will help here. Any ideas you have of places that might benefit from this type of intern should reach out. These kids can use all the support they can get – plus many of them seemed quite talented.

5th – Last but not least, my immediate takeaway was that these kids could use the financial support of the whole community. Lord knows the Fairfield County area can afford to help out those that are just starting out, or are less fortunate. I learned that for this department, the entire year’s supply budget for 2017-18 is $1,000. Imagine that. Just two sheafs of vellum will cost $200. This year, balsa wood for model making was purchased by the teacher. Lead, plotter paper, material samples, erasers, broken T squares, triangles, ink; all are in short supply. This list does not even touch upon computer and software upgrades. I offered to sit with my friend, the teacher, and brainstorm ways to help her supplement the student’s material budget in the coming year. It’s the least I can do for these kids.

So here it is.. my plea.. please pull together extra building samples (stucco, stone, siding, metals, cedar, etc.) and let me know what you have that I can deliver to the school for use in their shop next year.. And fair warning, I’m sure by the end of the summer I will be sending out a gofundme request to support that will help to fill their cupboards and maybe even offer prizes for great designs in the future. Encouragement is the first thing they need, but tangible support is a close second. I haven’t run a race in years and asked for donations for large charities.. but I will certainly ask for help for these kids. My hope is that they will see an immediate and substantial impact in their classrooms, and in their futures.

Thanks for listening to me ramble about something I think is very important and let me know if you can think of any other clever ways to help the kids. I’d be happy to connect you to their teacher directly where appropriate.

Thanks again for the invite Sara!

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