Hello, my name is Alan Kirkwood and I am now entering my second semester of courses in the Master's of Architecture program here at SIUC. I began at this university as a junior, transferring from Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. The transition was somewhat tough in that I did not have a strong technical background from my former school. Harold Washington focused a lot on design as well as familiarization with software. A forte of mine that has gotten me through many courses is my knowledge of Revit Architecture as well as 3D AutoCad. Over the course of the last few years, I have come to see how much of a technical program SIU has and therefore have sharpened my skills in that area as well. One of the things that drew me to SIUC was the diversity I saw in its school of architecture. It has a contemporary mindset in that it is not like some universities that focus on old methods of construction, but rather looks into newer technologies. It also has a strong focus on design, but they do not get carried away to the point that they allow the students to completely run wild without the consideration of "How are you going to build that?" (Norm Lach)
The staff here reflects the program almost perfectly. There are professors like Craig Anz and Stewart Wessel are very design oriented and get the students to think deeper than the typical building. Shannon Mcdonald encourages the students to look into passive methods of design for systems as well as looking into "What's happening now". Then there are instructors such as Norm and John Dobbins that encourage students to see the technical side of architecture and know that making a building stand and work is just as, if not more important than how it looks. Each of these aspects had a role in my decision to not only continue pursuing my education in architecture but particularly at SIU. One of my most exciting days in my academic career was the day I received my acceptance to the graduate program and a weight of stress was lifted from my shoulders.
Being in the graduate program here has been an interesting adventure so far. The summer semester began and assignments began to pile up. It is good that it begins immediately after spring semester so that you are still in the working mindset, but it still came to me as a surprise given the workload. I remember telling myself, "This is graduate school Alan. It is a whole new level." As the summer went on, I found myself getting into a groove though and managing my time better allowing me to enjoy my summer as well. The summer semester turned out quite successful, though I still did not have a Graduate Assistantship position, which I was in need of to help me stay in the program.
Over the first couple weeks of the fall semester, I found the workload to seem quite overwhelming, but I assume this is to be expected given that it is an accelerated program. I am still trying to set up a schedule so that I can manage everything on my plate including school, my two jobs, exercise and just my general sanity. The plus though is that I now have a GA position so I am not worried about how I will be able to afford my last two semesters of school.