Looking Back

2013 is drawing to a close. My first full year of In DePth has shown me that blogging on a regular schedule is, quite frankly, really hard to do. As much as I’ve enjoyed the blog, it still falls squarely into “hobby” territory… which puts it at a distant fifth place behind my family, my friends, my home, and my job. As a result, my publishing schedule was more than a little erratic — after feeling like I was running to stand still early in the year, I managed to hit my stride and publish a new post at least every two weeks over the summer (far more than I had ever imagined), but saw my productivity drop off rapidly in the last few months of the year (where deadlines and holidays might have been a factor). A tip of the hat to anyone out there that manages a blog on a weekly (or daily) basis.

My posts this year ranged from random thoughts on the practice of architecture, including some things that were tangentially related to it — my take on Ted Mosby became my second most popular post (and judging by the posts that were inspired by Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, and even Wheel of Fortune, I watch entirely too much television). (I also wrote about a roasting pan, a hot air balloon, and a giant rubber duck. Talk about your random thoughts.) However, in the interests of making this site actually somewhat useful, I also started including straightforward essays on the exam process and IDP; 2013 saw the launch of two recurring series of posts — Toward 5600, about Supplemental Experience in the IDP process, and 4.0 Average, offering exam advice — which seem to have been very well received. (Also the hardest to write, due to the fact-checking involved — the nature of the platform makes me nervous that I might accidentally spread some misinformation.)

The blog got some great publicity at the 2013 Coordinators Conference in July, where I used it as the prime example of how I use social media to supplement my role as State Coordinator. NCARB’s support of the blog has been invaluable; in fact, my most popular posts of the year were my perspectives on NCARB’s events, such as the Blackoutand the end to the duration requirements, and the piece that I wrote after the announcement of ARE 5.0 has proven to be my most popular ever. (Timing, it seems, is everything… but a few retweets from NCARB never hurt, either.)

I also had a few pieces published on AIA Pittsburgh’s site. Two of my blog posts (my report from Grassroots, and an essay on mentorship inspired by my son) were republished there, as well as two original articles — the paths to licensure taken by five recently registered architects, and a review of a playful new exhibit at the Carnegie Museum. Feel free to head on over and check them out.

Onward into 2014… hope to see you again soon. Happy New Year to you and yours.

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Dissecting the Frog

Yesterday, the most recent changes to the Intern Development Program — first alluded to at the annual Coordinators Conference earlier this summer, and announced last month — formally took effect. You’ve probably already heard the gist — eligibility requirements have been streamlined, and the duration requirement has been eliminated. And to this I say, good riddance. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Truthfully, I can’t think of many people who will miss either of these aspects of IDP. Out of all the questions I’ve received in my time as Pennsylvania’s state coordinator, it seems like these two topics have harbored a great deal of confusion from soon-to-be architects. Phasing them out significantly simplifies the process for everyone involved. Or, as a young professional in my chapter put it, “eliminating barriers to licensure is always a good thing.” I don’t know if I would have referred to it in quite that way — I’ve never seen IDP as a barrier to anything, even when I was struggling through it — but it’s certainly true that the rules governing the act sometimes seem to take more precedence over the actual act itself. By simplifying the rules, the focus can shift back to the more important things, like actually, you know, logging experience.

Boiling eligibility requirements down to their lowest common denominator — a high school diploma, which anyone pursuing a professional career should have, regardless of accredited degree — is one of those it’s-so-simple-we-should-have-thought-of-it-sooner sort of changes. Besides, let’s face it — were three forms for the same purpose really necessary? That sound you hear is the collective sigh of relief from educator coordinators across the nation, who just saw a significant reduction in their paperwork.

etfrog

“You’ve got to stay in there for at least eight weeks…”

Interns really had a hang up over the duration requirement (sample question: “I have found a summer internship, but my employer is” — gasp! the horror! — “giving me the day off for Memorial Day and Independence Day, so it won’t REALLY be eight consecutive weeks. Will this count toward IDP?”), which just seemed to become more confusing the more you tried to clear it up. To paraphrase EB White, trying to explain it became something like dissecting a frog. No one was interested, and the frog died.

Say what you will, but NCARB, to me, has always been incredibly responsive to the needs of their constituents. The ever-fluid nature of the Intern Development Program proves this — IDP is constantly evolving, mostly due to the input (or “constructive criticism”) of the people currently working their way through it. The best changes are the ones that are barely noticable, simple yet profound… and these two certainly qualify. And you certainly won’t hear any frogs complaining.