For this week’s blog I would like to discuss a mentoring program that was implemented into the school of architecture here at SIUC a few years ago. The sophomores in SIUC’s architecture program are required to take their first building technology course which involves wood constructions. It’s the first time students experience working on construction document sets which I remember being very overwhelming. Not only are you still learning the many programs used throughout architecture, but throw in the construction jargon, materials, and code restrictions, and it is very easy to get lost. I feared those red marks from my professor which always managed to cover the sheet; this was when I truly learned there are always more changes to make.
In the beginning of my junior year, the professor from that course had proposed the idea of doing a peer mentoring program between the juniors who had taken the building technology course with the new sophomore class. I thought this was a fantastic idea because it not only gives the sophomores extra options for help, but being able to go to a more relatable source seemed like a less intimidating option. We were set up with three students to mentor throughout the semester, with two required scheduled meetings. My students looked to me for help quite a lot, and I won’t lie I really enjoyed redlining their drawings and helping them out with all of their questions.
I believe this mentoring program has been very successful, and that I have benefited from the mentoring as much as the younger students did. Through spotting their mistakes and explaining it to them the material sinks in more and more permanently. I have remained a mentor since my junior year and am still in contact with at least half of the students. It became not only about questions about their building technology course, but about their other courses and basic words of advice about the road to becoming an architect. The world of architecture is very intense and complicated and it is very helpful to have someone to discuss your endless questions with. While at the same time it is nice to share your experiences, good and bad, with younger students, to help ease their journey to becoming an architect.