A generation of student mentoring

January 29th, 2019
A generation of student mentoring

Since 1992, CNH Architects has worked with high school students with an interest in architecture careers, reaching more than 26 young people.

The surrounding high schools in Eagan, Apple Valley, Rosemount, Farmington and the School of Environmental Studies sent students for three-month mentoring experiences. Each was able to gain an understanding of the firm and the industry. Working 2.5 hours per day for 10 weeks, young people created original architectural designs for commercial buildings, from start to finish.

You cannot just design structures that please yourself. They have to be dynamic structures that respect the relationships between real people and real problems. CNH Architects

The projects required research and architectural drawings by hand. Students created designs to match organizational needs and learned project presentation skills.

CNH offers an environment with working professionals that cannot be replicated in the classroom. Technical computer aided (CAD) designs skills a key tool, but students also realize how a professional practice is organized, and how it operates.  Collaboration, teamwork, presentation and listening are necessary. This environment encourages students to get involved and function as a team.

This focus on communication causes CNH professionals to get to know every team member. A theme for CNH has been that architects don’t just design structures to please themselves. They have to be dynamic structures that respect the relationships between real people and real problems.

One student, Steve Jackson, completed his mentorship with CNH and applied for the master’s degree program at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. He was accepted with a $15,000 scholarship. Jackson credits his experience with CNH. The CNH mentorship helped him to set standards for his classes. At his last check-in, Jackson was headed to Australia to practice architecture. He said his relationship with CNH is “a lifelong connection.”

Another mentor student, Paige Brunn, first came as a mentor from Eastview High School and then returned to work as a summer employee at CNH while in architectural school. “It’s been nice to get real world experiences outside of school projects, something that you can’t be taught in the classroom,” she said. Brunn graduated with her degree in architecture and is currently working in the field.

Firm Principal Quinn Hutson said mentor students create an excitement in the office and they receive a realistic picture of the field, which helps them decide if they want to pursue it. Staff members have said they wished to have had such an experience while in high school. “It’s a very valuable opportunity that we are please to offer,” Hutson said.

Exploring career options early can save young people time and money down the road, he explained.