June 08, 2012

Goodbye Undergrad - Thanks AIAS!

 I`m dressing up like LeCorbusier all in the name of AIAS Fun
(I less silly than this on regular days)

Before I say my goodbye to undergrad, I reflect on my final years being involved with the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) at my school. One of the things I aspired in university was to get involved in extracurricular activities. I just did not want to be those students that go through the motions of finishing your required credits for graduation – I wanted to be more, and I wanted to do more.

In the early years at school, some of my friends got involved early in our AIAS chapter. They were always pushing me to join. To be honest, I was quite  hesitant and not yielding to their invites (i.e. avoiding them, excuses, etc).  However it changed when I went to my first FORUM conference in Minneapolis in 2009 with some friends who were involved in preparing for hosting FORUM 2010 in our city, Toronto, the following year. I heard great speakers talk about architecture education and the state of our profession, and I got to experience the energy that is FORUM (I must admit, I was really shy in my first FORUM).

Following the trip, I told my friends that I wanted to help out and get involved with the organization and helping out for FORUM in our city. My involvement was little at first, but then I wanted to sign up for Chapter Events Coordinator for the following year. I was entering in what I thought would be my final year of studies, and figured I’d go out with a bang finish my last year by being involved and doing service to the school.

However, I flunked a course in school...that was overwhelmingly demoralizing (I'm in school for another year, and I am once again with a different graduating year). Despite that, I chose to stick it out even though there were times I felt awkward being the kid from another year. Being involved with the AIAS forced me to be at school regularly and to be more engaged in the wonderful world of architecture - it got me going to the finish line. It pushed me to show face at school, beyond the self doubts I had in myself. The unfortunate experience of failure made me realize the struggles that students face in architecture school, and the flaws of the current architectural education system (there are scholars that challenge the all-nighters, and the accessibility of our profession). I wanted to help the students in my school, especially those that struggled like me. It made me more compassionate and not-so-quick to judge those students who struggled.

Grassroots 2011 - AIAS Leadership Conference - Tour of the national monuments!
The AIAS gave me a chance to hone and brush up my leadership and management skills. I met many architecture students and friends from different parts of the US, who shared the same passion and civic responsibility as I did. I got to travel to conferences across the United States and hear keynote addresses of various intellects and practitioners who have contributed to architectural discourse and the architecture industry. I enjoyed visiting the known architecture of other American cities, physically seeing the buildings my professors mentioned in class, and being able to set foot in those places and experience the architecture. The AIAS broadened my network of friends and colleagues who are just as passionate about the field of architecture as me and experienced the things that all of us architecture students face.  It was a great organization and I hope to get involved again in the AIAS at whatever grad school I end up in to get my M.Arch.

Getting a tour of the Phoenix Public Library at last year`s FORUM Conference

So for those who are reading this, all I can say is thank you for the memories AIAS. It’s been a pleasure being the Ryerson Chapter Events Coordinator (2010-2011) and Chapter Vice-President (2011-2012) in my final 2 years of at Ryerson. From FORUM, to the chapter trip to Boston, to DC, to Phoenix, to the seminars and workshops on portfolios and career preparation, the free starbucks coffee give aways, and the moments I had the guts to do the silly stuff  – it’s been a blast and made these final years in architecture school, 10 times better.

My advice for architecture students - DEFINITELY GET INVOLVED (Don't wait late like I did, I regret not getting involved earlier on in the game - It will really enhance your years in architecture school, and supplement your architectural education to develop the soft skills you need in the workplace).

Till then AIAS Ryerson, Stay Classy - As Always. Peace.
(I really don`t know what pic to finish off with) 

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