The National Design Competition gave me the experience to be involved in all aspects of a project and then present in front of a panel of judges. I enjoyed the design of the project, and having the opportunity to be involved with budgeting and scheduling. All the skills I have learned at ACE, and by being involved in the National Design competition, have prepared me well.
Being the project manager for the Frederick Retro Fit Team was a difficult position, but rewarding in the end. Our team became successful because we quickly learned how to compromise and found a place where each team member could be most valuable. I learned that successful projects weren’t just about the end product. We also had to take into consideration how our clients would feel every step of the way, and how each design decision we made would affect them. This really broadened what designing was for me. It isn’t just about making an aesthetically pleasing space; design is about molding the way people feel once they are in those spaces. For the three years I was in the ACE Mentor Program I learned a great deal about how to lead and communicate professionally, how to design successful spaces, and how to present ideas clearly.
The competition was an incredible experience which has shaped me as a designer, presenter, and thinker. The competition taught me what it is like to truly sell an idea and create a plan on how to make a dream a reality. I learned a lot about team work, overcoming difficulties, and laying out presentation materials. Since being accepted into the Department of Architecture at Iowa State University two years ago, I have been much more comfortable with my peers when it comes to arguing my ideas and presenting my concepts. One of the greatest things the CIRT-ACE competition afforded me was confidence in myself and real-world experience in selling a concept.
The National Design competition is what initially brought me into the world of construction and made me fall in love with it. The CIRT competition provided me a peek into the full scope of what happens behind the scenes in the construction industry. I learned about generating an estimate, creating a schedule, developing a floor plan, brainstorming a design, and resolving a problem. I've utilized the knowledge and insight obtained from the competition every day since then. The CIRT competition gave me a leap ahead of my peers, and I was able to use what I learned to secure an internship with the largest general building contractor in the U.S.
In my second year of ACE, I was the project manager for a team that designed a multi-service health clinic for Baltimore, MD. The focus of the project was to “defeat fear.” We wanted to create a building that offered many health services while balancing comfort for patients—so they wouldn’t be nervous or uneasy about a doctor visit or procedure. The project gave me a passion for the healthcare industry, especially healthcare design. I developed a wonderful interest in designing and developing spaces that offer a function of help and comfort to the users. I found excitement in understanding how people react to and use space—from the service of the building to the material choices to the circulation patterns. I hope to someday do a similar project in the real world.
The design competition was an amazing experience for me. Spending many hours on Google Sketch Up trying to think of every room, design focal points, and access into the building forced me to think about how people experience buildings. Then having to abandon the details in order to throw the project together just in time for the deadline was a great learning moment. Nothing will be perfect. You just have to do your best. We will all make mistakes, but the important thing is to accept them, move forward, and get better the next time. The competition was, and still is, one of the true highlights of my life.
The competition made me very certain of my talents and interests. It made me sure that I wanted to work in the architectural field designing buildings. I learned that I liked working with a team to design a building, considering the form and planning spaces, and debating about the best way to accomplish all kinds of goals. I also learned how much energy it takes to be a successful presenter, and it gave me a good head start. I think the main thing I carried away from ACE is how to present confidently and how to treat the schematic phase of a design.
During my final ACE year, I learned how to collaborate my thoughts and ideas with a large team, and then focus in on the details that were most critical—so we could present our ideas to the jury in a concise and informative way. Knowing how to communicate and present months—even years—of work and ideas to others in a way that they can understand and be sold on is a very important skill to have in the business world.