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Building futures with pre-architecture

Weber State University is adapting to the changing field of architecture, hoping to better equip graduates for the moment they enter the workforce. The new pre-architecture degree is the latest tool in the students’ proverbial belt.

At the Davis Campus, the Construction and Building Sciences Program offers four degrees: Building Design and Construction, (a combination of architecture and construction); Interior Design; Construction Management and Facilities Management.

The new pre-architecture associate’s degree is designed to prepare students to go to work for construction companies and/or architectural firms doing design — this spans from single-family homes to larger companies that work on larger buildings, such as hospitals and schools.

“The associates degree prepares students for entry-level jobs, as draftsman and beginning designer work,” Jeremy Farner, Associate Professor and Wadman Center of Excellence Director, said. “The bachelor’s degree prepares students to be architectural designers for residential buildings only.”

The industry approached Weber State University roughly 10 years ago presenting the architectural industry’s needs, which is to have students understand both the design aspect as well as the construction side of the industry. The new degree will open communication between the design and the construction aspects of architectural work.

The pre-architecture degree will, for the first time at WSU, allow students to be able to understand how to design, how to estimate costs and how to judge project length from start to finish.

To become a licensed architect, Utah students need to earn master’s degrees.

“Weber State University prepares students to go out and design homes, up to a four-plex,” Farner said. “If they want to be the architect in-charge they will need more schooling than what Weber State University offers currently.”

One of the things the school does each year is allow students to design and build a building in Ogden, in collaboration with Ogden City and The Ogden Civic Action Network.

“One of the things that we’re trying hard to do is get out of the classroom,” Farner said. “And into the working world environment.”

Another unique opportunity is the annual service-learning trip.

Usually, these service-learning projects are either health- or school-oriented projects where students visit developing countries, to build the class-designed projects.

“We just recently finished a project in Fiji,” Farner said. “Where we finished an addition to a school for a computer lab, and then we took 30 laptops over and set up their computer lab, so those students can start using computers in the 8th grade.”

During spring break 2021, students plan to go to Guana Island to build a school that Weber State University students’ have designed, in order to help victims of human trafficking learn marketable skills that they then can offer society and create a new life for themselves.

Groups have also visited Mozambique, Peru and Thailand to work on projects that they have developed.

“Our goal, is by fall semester 2021 that we will have an entry into architecture class as a Creative Arts General Education course,” Farner added.

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