You may be contemplating returning to the classroom whether it’s to enrich your already expansive knowledge of the world or to simply advance your career. If you’re on the fence and need a little push, perhaps my personal story of cracking open textbooks inspires you to do the same.
When I originally decided to continue my education the plan was to take one Revit software course at Montgomery Community College in hopes to become a more marketable Architect. Upon further investigation I became aware that this particular school had an established Construction Technology program and offered a 2 year Associate Degree program in Construction Management. I quickly realized I could condense this program to one year by combining it with my background in Architecture. This made my decision easy.
I had the opportunity to take technical courses in Estimating, Scheduling & Construction Law, as well as hands-on courses. Construction Field Operations gave me the privilege of visiting an ongoing construction project and observing its progress over the course of a semester. In addition to the coursework, the school sponsored local student chapters with the Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. (ABC) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Every year these organizations have national student competitions, and I participated in a team entering the NAHB – Residential Construction Management Competition. The goal was to develop a complete set of working drawings, a detailed estimate, and a complete construction schedule for a fictitious house to be built on an actual site in North Canton, Ohio. Additionally, the home also needed to achieve an NAHB Silver green rating.
This proved to be a very challenging experience. After 6 short weeks of dedicated work all projects were to be delivered to the NAHB headquarters in Washington, DC. We proudly hand delivered our submission with only 2 hours to spare before the final deadline. The competition was steep as we competed on a national level, and each team would present to a panel of judges at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida.
A group of Construction Industry professionals were selected to judge the competition. We had ten minutes to present, which was a bit unnerving. Despite our efforts, it was natural for us to have some doubts as this was the first time Montgomery Community College took part in the competition.
And the winner is…no, not us, but we won 2nd place! When we took the stage to receive our plaque, our complete sense of surprise was reflected by our casual attire. We received our reward on stage wearing shorts and sneakers, while many of our opponents had arrived at the final judging wearing collar shirts and ties.
Long story short, it was worth the journey. The process of acquiring a Construction Management Associate Degree has benefited me in many ways, and ultimately I was offered a position with WDG’s Construction Administration department. My experience in continuing my education has allowed me to bring a broadened perspective to my work as a design professional, and helped me become a well-rounded Architect.