The Technology of Architecture: Career and Technical Education Is Helping Students Draw Up Blueprints for Success in Architectural Technology

By Reese, Susan | Techniques, February 2006 | Go to article overview
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The Technology of Architecture: Career and Technical Education Is Helping Students Draw Up Blueprints for Success in Architectural Technology


Reese, Susan, Techniques


The Pentagon is the world's largest office building and contains more than 3.7 million square feet of space. The average American home has about 2,330 square feet. These buildings may seem to have little in common, but there are things they share, and one is that they began with a good plan.

While architects are behind the design of most buildings, architectural technicians may be behind those architects providing support as a valuable member of the team.

According to the College of DuPage (COD) in Glen Ellyn, Ill., one of the two-year schools offering training in architectural technology, graduates have a number of opportunities available to them. They may work as drafters or plan reviewers with architectural, engineering, manufacturing or government agencies. Within government agencies, they may work with code and zoning issues or in historic preservation activities. With an architectural technology background, they may go into the construction industry, working onsite to review or prepare documents, or in estimating or sales. They may even decide to continue their education and become architects themselves--and all of this can begin while they are still in high school.

Drafting Success at DuPage

Architectural technology is part of the tech prep program in DuPage County, which is just west of Chicago. According to COD Tech Prep Coordinator Ken Windisch, the tech prep program is available to all of the 35 high schools in the county. He also notes that the computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) program--an important element of architectural technology--is very active in connection with the high schools.

Since it is a tech prep program, it includes a 2+2+2 sequence of occupational and academic courses. In high school, students earn college articulated credit, then transition into a two-year community college. They then have the option of continuing on for another two years to obtain a baccalaureate degree at a four-year university.

The college recommends that, to prepare for the architectural technology program at COD, students take courses in math (algebra, geometry, trigonometry), science (physics) and communications (writing). The occupational electives recommended include drafting, CADD and construction trades. COD also suggests taking electives such as art, history and humanities.

In architectural technology at COD, which is just one of the degree programs available within the COD architecture program, the students will study drafting and design, CADD and historic preservation. According to Jane Ostergaard, coordinator of architecture and CADD for the college, there are three degree paths and two certification paths that. students can take in the architecture program at COD. The pre-architecture path is for students who plan to transfer to a four-year school and become architects. Architectural technology and construction management also fall within the architecture program.

Ostergaard notes that the pre-architecture curriculum is the primary path used by their students for transfer into a four-year program that leads to becoming an architect, although students also use the construction management degree for transfer into that field.

Students in the program have the option of pursuing a certificate in architectural technology or architectural rendering. Ostergaard explains that architectural rendering gives the students a brief program of skills in drafting and 3-D modeling, but in architectural technology the students get the architectural content classes with a lot more training in construction documents, technical building materials, CADD, code specifications and contracts. The focus is on architectural document production.

"Our program is very strong, and we have students actively pursuing all of our degrees" Ostergaard notes.

She says that while the largest group of students is still in pre-architecture, construction management is also large--and growing.

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