In a design oriented major there is always work to be done. Much of the time you will feel that your projects are not where you want them to be on a due date. After a year of this it may feel like you are never getting anything significant done, or that you aren’t making strides towards a better understanding of the field. You may begin to believe you are behind your peers. It is important to take a step back from your classes and review your work to date. One method for keeping track of it all is to create a portfolio and update it as due dates pass. When you take a look you may be impressed with how far you’ve come from your first semester. The majority of students do not have a process like this and it shows in their demeanor and ultimately their work. The stress involved may create a false sense of urgency to rush through the initial thought behind your project out of fear to complete it on time. Due dates are important and of course there are grade penalties for not turning work in on time, but it may be advantageous to turn in late work that you feel is in a good place rather than turn in mediocre work on time.
It is also important to recognize that each class in our major builds on the last. As the semesters pass you may see many students apply conventional logic to class – memorize, regurgitate, forget. There is a great deal of information that we are exposed to which is why note keeping is important, but more relevant is that you gain an understanding of the underlying principals in each class and how they relate to each other. We have the benefit of being in a rather technical program which details the majority of how to assemble a building and make sure it is going to stand. If you don’t take information between semesters you will lose a great deal of the benefit of an education at SIU. Beyond university you may find that employers look for new hires with an understanding of how component s are assembled on a job site.
As a global citizen you should attempt to apply what we learn about sustainability to your own behavior as well as your projects. We have the benefit of living in an age where building materials are being improved by orders of magnitude every year. I’ve criticized the “cheapness” of many modern materials before but one upside to the search for the ever stronger, thinner, and less expensive component is the expansive list of new ideas generated. A simple Google search for bamboo products or alternatives to Portland Cement such as fly ash generates hundreds of useful returns. We hold the responsibility of creating a more stable environmentally friendly community in the coming decades that should improve the lives of inhabitants. This is an idealistic approach as few of us will become starchitects with the clout to add our creation to the skyline of your choice - the important point is that you always attempt to make progress towards a more positive built environment at your stage in life.