Paving the Way for a More Diverse Industry

For architecture students, the road to becoming licensed is a long one. Between school, internships, and preparing for the licensure exam, the mean time from high school graduation to becoming licensed is 13.3 years.¹ For many students, the current model puts an architecture license out of reach, this is especially true for minority groups and women. Reducing the time it takes for students to become licensed and increasing the diversity within the architecture industry are two of the primary goals of the master of science in architecture with a concentration in research practices (MS-RP) program.

“Research overwhelmingly shows that diversity in a company or industry increases creativity and collaboration, so increasing diversity will benefit all of the building industry. The MS-RP program is a feeder to leadership in the profession, by ensuring that the program graduates women and minorities, we will substantively change the face of firm partnership within a decade,” explained Renée Cheng, director of the program.

MS-RP Student Pratibha Chauhan

MS-RP student Pratibha Chauhan

As part of its efforts to decrease the time to licensure and increase the diversity out in the field, the MS-RP program endeavors to bring the industry and the academic community closer together. “MS-RP is built around the idea of bridging the gap between academia and practice by creating platforms that aid in the exchange of invaluable insights generated within these two realms…” said Pratibha Chauhan, currently in her second year with the program.

MS-RP Student Angella Dariah

MS-RP student Angella Dariah

To bridge the gap, the MS-RP program has created a consortium of architecture firms all interested in pursuing new research and ideas. Students within the program work with a host firm to tackle a research topic, the results of which are shared with the other consortium members. By working within a firm, students are given the extraordinary opportunity to work directly with industry leaders in the field. “There is really no other program like MS-RP … it allows one to see the good, the bad, and the potential of this profession,” said Angella Dariah, an MS-RP student in the first year of the program.

Interestingly, recent research from EQxD shows that the strongest predictor of success for recent graduates is contact with firm leaders.² By providing structured, substantive interaction, MS-RP graduates have excellent support which can greatly advance their progress after graduation.

“MS-RP helps architecture students develop confidence through rigorous research and critical thinking by redefining our role as strategic thinkers that are able to first identify the problem and then approach it in ways that are highly creative,” said Chauhan. “It’s allowed me to approach a research question by looking outside of my immediate professional periphery (architecture) and borrow from other disciplines to frame a research project that can be at once both highly intuitive and quantifiable.”

The MS-RP program reimagines what the future of the architectural industry looks like and gives students powerful new avenues for success. “Take advantage of the program,” advised Dariah. “There is so much to the profession that one can learn through this program, plus one can become a licensed architect so much faster in the process. It is definitely a win-win.”

¹”Timeline to Licensure.” Timeline to Licensure | National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. National Council of Architectural Registration Board, 2016. <http://nbtn.ncarb.org/timeline-to-licensure>

² “EQiA2016_EarlyFindingsInfographics.” Equity by Design [EQxD]. AIA San Francisco, 29 Oct. 2016. <http://eqxdesign.com/>

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