While most architecture professionals recognize the benefits of continuing education for career advancement and aptitude, busy and overextended lifestyles demand that professional learning be easily accessible and effective. As time dedicated to learning is at a premium, convenient educational programs take priority for AIA members. Design and implementation are valuable criteria for administering continuing education courses, yet it is crucial to evaluate your course’s content for quality and applicability to member’s needs. Whether you are an architecture firm providing education to staff or manufacturer marketing a product to the industry, it is important to conduct courses which are both engaging and informative. This month’s Provider Spotlight highlights the continuing education programs of architecture firms Lord, Aeck & Sargent, Inc. and EYP Architecture & Engineering past winners of the CES Award for Excellence.
Lord, Aeck & Sargent, based in Atlanta, has implemented a structured continuing education program to help facilitate quality ongoing education for architects, staff, and institutional clients. An effective learning system ensures clients and employees are knowledgeable about emerging industry trends.
Similarly, EYP Architecture & Engineering based in Albany, NY, has established an internal corporate university which is directly tied to the strategic plan of the firm. EYP/U offers training and education to achieve the best possible firm results, while allowing licensed architects to keep their registrations current.
Lord, Aeck & Sargent, Inc. and EYP Architecture & Engineering have shared with CES their insights and best practices for successful continuing education programs.
AIA/CES: In what ways does your firm contribute to continuing education?
Lord, Aeck & Sargent: Every year our internal Lord, Aeck & Sargent University (LASU) program and employee participation steadily grow. The curriculum consists of several categories: design courses, process-oriented programs, building technology courses, leadership classes, and hardware/software tools, taught by internal and external experts and consultants. Courses are presented in a wide variety of formats including lectures, interactive roundtable discussions, user groups, project/construction site tours, online tutorials and instructor-led interactive computer-based courses. Additional training opportunities for external continuing education, seminars and workshops are also offered to complement our internal LASU program, ensuring that a well-rounded and effective training experience is provided for our staff.
EYP Architecture & Engineering: In Fall 2000, EYP leadership embraced the concept of establishing a corporate university. Uniquely different from a traditional education and training program, a corporate university is directly tied to the strategic plan of the firm. EYP is a knowledge-based design firm whose greatest resource is human intellectual capital. Offering employees the opportunity to develop to their fullest intellectual, creative, and leadership potential is an essential characteristic of our culture and critical to the success of our strategic plan. Open to all staff members EYP/U provides training in five key areas: Project Delivery & Technical Expertise; Design Expertise; Strategic Technologies; Energy and Sustainability; Leadership & Personal Development.
AIA/CES: What are your firm’s practices with course development? How do you refine or change your courses based on new research or technology?
LAS: Fortunately for us we actually practice before we teach. The classes are informed by the current work we are doing. This helps to keep the course material current and relevant. Our work requires us to be leaders in our fields, so we are constantly improving our service and deliverables for our clients. This due diligence is automatically factored into our presentations for the courses we deliver.
AIA/CES: How does your firm approach course development and respond to different learning styles?
EYP: EYP/U courses are consistently being evaluated based on employee feedback, industry need, and changes in technology. To appeal to different styles of learning, EYP published a firm-wide survey reflecting staff preferences. This is the second time the firm has done so, in an effort to stay current with learning styles and new technology.
Furthermore, courses are evaluated by a Steering Committee led by the firm's Vice President of Intellectual Content. Based on staff feedback, adherence to the corporate strategic plan, and continuing education requirements, this committee determines which -- and which types -- of courses must be available on a yearly basis.
AIA/CES: What techniques do you employ when teaching a course to adult students?
EYP: The techniques used to teach EYP/U courses are varied, based on where the course lies in the general education to advanced training spectrum. All cases, however, involve the use of advanced communication. For instance, EYP employs advanced telecommunications technology to support effective design meetings and training across multiple locations. The firm’s “Huddle,” driven by a $750,000 investment in LifeSize high-definition video and audio systems, accelerates the ability to create, capture, and share design ideas in real time, regardless of physical location. This technology enables simple, on-demand collaboration without compromising content. By reducing interoffice travel, the Huddle also advances EYP’s goal of shrinking its carbon footprint each year.
AIA/CES: What are the techniques or tools you use to market courses to AIA members as well as other practicing architects?
LAS: Since our clients generally consist of people familiar with the construction industry, we find they are typically AIA members. By ensuring our course materials meet the requirements to receive AIA credits, there is a built-in incentive for AIA members to attend our presentation. Our first objective is to inform the participants of course materials that interest them. Second, we bring the latest ideas in the industry to the audience.
Thank you to Lord, Aeck & Sargent’s Pamela Burnette, Warren Williams, AIA, and Ken Higa, AIA and EYP’s Kelly Donahue and Leila Kamal, AIA for their contributions to this piece.
We will be featuring a column devoted to AIA/CES Providers each month. We are looking for Providers with a story or secret to share regarding course development, marketing, etc.