Many Happy Returns

Today marks the one-year anniversary of In DePth. Allow me the self-indulgence of a little reflection.

As of this writing, I’ve published 40 individual posts — well over my initial estimate of two each month — and sent nearly 600 tweets since my introductory post one year ago. When I decided to take on something like this, I was only hoping to offer a little bit of advice and guidance (and maybe a little bit of entertainment) in the interests of providing some online mentorship to emergent professionals in Pennsylvania… but the reach has surprisingly been much broader than that. The blog has received over 2,700 views, which is about 2,699 more than I had expected. Most of the traffic has been from the United States, of course, but people from countries as far away as the Philippines and the Republic of Korea (including a place called Azerbaijan, which I didn’t even know existed) have viewed this site, which I find incredibly humbling.

Managing a blog has been a huge learning experience for me — hammering out a few hundred words each week has been a discipline, to say the least. Auto-scheduling has proven to be both a blessing and a curse; it’s allowed me to publish while sitting in the beach, but also led to more than a few misfires (I really didn’t mean to publish a nuts-and-bolts essay on Easter Sunday, if anyone was wondering…). While I’ve always been incredibly critical of my writing, this format has only intensified that feeling — some posts sit as drafts for weeks, while I meticulously tweak grammar and sentence structure; strangely enough, in spite of that, my most popular post ever was written in under an hour (while nursing a mild hangover, to boot). Some of my more recent entries, about the Blackout and the transition to ARE 5.0, have also gotten a lot of exposure (thanks in no small part to NCARB’s help in sharing them), meaning that I am indeed reaching my target audience. The blog format has also allowed me the freedom to develop ideas, some of which have then been considered fit to be included in local, state, and national online publications. Again, for a guy that sometimes feels like he’s punishing his keyboard for wrongs done in a past life, this is quite humbling.

Lastly, I wanted to give a huge shout-out to someone that has really provided a lot of support for the blog in its first year — my main man, Ted Mosby. Earlier this year, I wrote about Ted’s presence as one of the few architects in prime-time television, and as part of my New Year’s Resolution to include more images in the blog, I uploaded a photo. Those references to our favorite fictional architect led to anywhere between 10 to 15 unique hits on the blog, per day, for a series of months. I have no idea if any of those people that stumbled upon this site actually read anything that I wrote, but I’m grateful to Mr. Mosby for the exposure.

Thanks to everyone who has visited this page, read these words, left your own comments, and shared these random thoughts of mine — it’s appreciated more than you know. Anything you want to see me cover in the coming months? Leave me comments below (bonus points if it involves a mention of Ted). On to year two!

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July from all of us here at InDePth! Okay, well, it’s really only me here, but if I had a staff, I’m sure they’d wish you the same.

To paraphrase Zac Brown, I hope that at some point this summer, you find your toes in the water, tail in the sand, without a worry in the world except the cold drink in your hand (which, by the way, is exactly what I’m doing right now). New posts will be published on a weekly basis, so keep checking back for more of my thoughts on the internship and licensure process.

Here’s to a safe and healthy summer, and a productive Blackout.

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Blackout!

DCF 1.0

Toronto, Ontario, 2003 Blackout (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The blackout is nearly upon us… Are you ready? (As one of the exam candidates in AIA-Pittsburgh put it, “well, yes — I’ve stocked up on bottled water and canned goods…” Very funny, but remember, I do the entertaining here… anyhoo…)

It will take an estimated eight weeks to migrate record data from the former holder, Prometric, to Alpine Testing Solutions. Once the migration is complete and the blackout has ended, exam candidates will be able to schedule tests, monitor their exam history, and receive electronic score reports directly from NCARB’s website, using the “My Examination” portal. The test is long behind me, but I think that this will be a huge improvement to the system, and will greatly simplify the way candidates manage their exam process — gone will be the days of using an external site to schedule exams, and then waiting weeks to receive a score report via snail mail.  Nothing about the exam itself will change — Prometric will continue to administer the exam, using the same testing centers, and content will remain the same (rescheduling fees will be modified to follow a tiered structure… but none of you reschedule your tests, so that shouldn’t matter, right??). For more information, check out the details on NCARB’s website.

If that eight-week dry spell scares you, there’s still time to squeeze in one more exam — the last day to take an ARE division prior to the blackout is June 30. Candidates will be able to schedule exam appointments again in late August — in order to hit the ground running, be sure to review NCARB’s guide for testing post-blackout. And don’t forget about the new security measures that will be implemented by Prometric, which might add some time to that first appointment.

For those of you grumbling about how much of an inconvenience this will be for you, take my advice:  stop.  The end result will be a much more streamlined and comprehensive method for managing your testing.  As NALSA Publishing put it in a recent blast, NCARB is actually doing you a favor here. If you’re currently testing, maybe this is the incentive you need to take that next division, prior to the blackout (and if so, you should really think about scheduling that appointment RIGHTNOW!!). Then you can take the opportunity to prepare for your next exam — possibly one of the more difficult divisions? — in those eight weeks. If you’re planning to start testing, you can use those eight weeks to brush up on content and develop a testing strategy, decide which division to start off with, and gather study materials.  Or you could use the blackout period to… oh, I don’t know… take a vacation.  It is the summer, after all.  Just be sure to stock up on bottled water.

Security Blanket

On Friday, NCARB announced some new security procedures at Prometric testing centers, which will take effect after the Blackout ends in late August. Here’s a video preview…

Actually, I’m only kidding. You can’t take a guest with you into the testing center! They have to stay in the waiting room! Sheesh…

But seriously, folks, NCARB has announced that Prometric will be instituting a biometrically-enabled security system for their testing centers, which will have a small effect on ARE candidates. According to NCARB’s official press release, during your the first exam appointment after the blackout, candidates should expect to have their photo ID scanned, provide six digital fingertip swipes (three from each hand), and take a test-day photo (which wil be used to create a database of exam candidate identification information). Every subsequent appointment will involve a single finger swipe and photo session, for comparison to the record data. (I imagine that many of you have a great deal of practice in giving NCARB the finger, so this should be easy for you.) This is part of standard procedures at all Prometric facilities for any exam that they administer (for more information, check out their official video announcement. ); in our context, it will also help NCARB to ensure that the same person is actually taking each of the seven divisions.

All jokes aside, this is a significant improvement to security at Prometric’s facilities. Exam security is serious business, worthy of some pretty incredible measures… or, at least, some measures worthy of The Incredibles.

Some words to the wise — what this means to me is that you should arrive a little earlier for that first appointment, especially after a three-month break where everyone will be anxious to resume testing, so plan accordingly. Good luck, and remember – no capes! (You’ll just have to leave it in the locker with your other belongings, anyway…)

Special Guest Star…

…Nick Serfass!

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Nick Serfass, doin’ his thing…

The NCARB Outreach Train rolled into Pittsburgh last night for a visit to Carnegie Mellon University.  Assistant Director of IDP Nick Serfass, NCARB, LEED AP, PMP, dropped by the ‘burgh for not one, but two, presentations on all things related to licensure — “Designing Your Future: Creating Value in Your Career” and “NCARB and You: IDP, ARE, and Certification.”  CMU’s School of Architecture (and Educator Coordinator Alexis McCune) hosted the event, which also included a networking reception — complete with snacks from Pittsburgh Popcorn — for students and emergent professionals from AIA-Pittsburgh’s Young Architects Forum.

Anyone who has seen Nick present knows that he brings a great deal of his own personality to the table, offering up stories from his own path toward licensure as a way of connecting with his audience.  About 25 students attended the first presentation, which offered an overview of the licensure process.  The second presentation, geared toward post-graduates who are already enrolled in IDP, attracted over 40 people; Nick’s discussion included recent expanded opportunities to gain IDP credit, opportunities for Supplemental Experience, and that looming ARE Blackout.  (And, of course, your friendly neighborhood State Coordinator was also on hand, rallying for the cause.)

A visit from NCARB is always a great opportunity to gain insight into IDP and ARE, direct from the source — if you’re interested in setting up a visit, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!