Rewarding Time Through Volunteering

Your project is out the door and in the hands of your client. There is a rewarding feeling when you finally know that the project has been completed. Then when you perform the last structural observation and send the close-out report, knowing that the project is now ready for putting on the finishing touches on the building. And every time you drive by months or years later, it sparks a smile. Or when you actually find yourself sitting with a friend having dinner in the building you worked on. Rewarding as those may feel, there is nothing more rewarding than volunteering your time to help educate 5th graders on architectural/structural ideas.

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Three years ago I got an email from the Structural Engineers Association of Oregon (SEAO), suggesting that we volunteer our time to this program called Architects in School, where we share our structural expertise to young minds. I sent in my application and waited for the formal training in January. I had been assigned a school to help with and caught up with the teachers involved in the program at the training event. From there we chartered the course for that year’s curriculum. After that I visited the classrooms 6 times for one hour each during the winter season. Then in April the students displayed their completed projects for others to see at various locations such as the AIA main office and other architects offices.

This history behind the program, according to the website is (https://af-oregon.org/programs/architects-in-schools):

“Inspired by the first Earth Day, a team led by Oregon architect Marjorie Wintermute FAIA created the program over a five-year period with the goal of developing awareness and understanding of the designed and built environment and our responsibility for it among third through fifth grade students. Architects in Schools delivers arts programming, environmental understanding, awareness of cultural links to history, understanding responsibility to the natural environment, career awareness, and communication skills – all through the principles and practices of architecture and design. It addresses both understanding of design’s potential for achieving excellence in the continued development of our state, and standard-rich content for increasingly stretched teachers and systems in Oregon’s schools.”

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I am now starting my forth year with great anticipation. Seeing the new faces and the willingness to learn something that could potentially lead to being an architect or structural engineer down the road as a career. It can also just give each student, as they grow a great appreciation for architectural/structural structures around their area. And for those who give of their time to inspire young minds and hearts, well it is an experience that will live with you forever. I still remember being at their exhibit when one of our students was getting his dad’s attention with glee, “Dad, there is Mr. Daily.”

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