Architecture students get inspired at national AIAS leadership conference

August 7th, 2015 Comments Off on Architecture students get inspired at national AIAS leadership conference


MSU Freedom by Design Director Rashida Momoh (center, green dress) and MSU AIAS 2015-2016 President (to her right) at Grassroots 2015

(left to right) Ben Webster, Rashida Momoh, Elizabeth Beuche and Emily Turner

(left to right) Ben Webster, Rashida Momoh, Elizabeth Beutche and Emily Turner

Four Mississippi State architecture students, along with CAAD Associate Dean Greg G. Hall, Ph.D., AIA, NCARB, recently attended the 2015 national American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Grassroots Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., from July 23-26.

Emily Turner, who was elected to serve as this year’s president of Mississippi State’s chapter of AIAS, approached the associate dean last semester about attending the annual convention, which works to develop future leaders in architecture by bringing together AIAS chapter leaders, AIAS Freedom By Design program leaders and emerging professionals.

“Freedom by Design was part of my campaign when I ran for president,” said Turner, who explained Freedom by Design to be an AIAS service project that uses student talent to help out the community. “Mississippi State AIAS has participated in the past, but it has been several years since we’ve had a project. And you have to attend Grassroots to host a Freedom by Design Project,” she added.

Turner said the associate dean, who serves as the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Liaison to the AIAS Board, was excited about both the prospect of starting back Freedom by Design at MSU as well as students attending the national convention.

“The national convention is a huge opportunity for students to network and meet national board members,” said Hall, who helped prepare Turner and three other students for convention – Elizabeth Beuche, Rashida Momoh and Ben Webster.

While Turner attended the leadership workshops, Beuche, Momoh and Webster soaked up everything they could at Freedom by Design workshops – learning how to get started and what other schools have done in the past.

“Their projects were so fantastic,” said Momoh, who said other schools had done everything from large projects: community parks and full houses, to small projects: a bridge and a ramp for a house. “We got a lot of ideas and are currently in the process of looking for a client and a project.”

“We were also just really inspired by being with people who had such great ideas about how to improve the community,” said Momoh. “And we not only came home with ideas to help us improve our outside community through Freedom by Design but also the studio culture in Giles.”

The group came up with an idea to create a waste room where architecture students can store materials they are done with that can be re-used by others. If the project is a success, they hope to implement similar rooms across campus.

The students were also able to take advantage of their time in D.C. during the conference.

“It was great to go see the city,” said Momoh. “I think everyone needs to go to a conference like this, so they can get out and see the world and see what’s around you. It’s so important to be able to get out and see good architecture.”

All the students said they are making plans to attend the 2015 AIAS Forum in San Francisco on New Years and are planning to get more AIAS members to attend as well.

“I want everyone to get to experience this,” said Turner. “It was great meeting architecture students from across the country and realizing it’s one big collective experience – that you are not by yourself. And, I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates personally without the stress of school,” she added.

“And just seeing how motivated people were and how much they wanted to help you to become better with what you are already doing and make sure you are on a track of progression,” added Momoh. “The atmosphere was just fantastic!”

Additional MSU Involvement
In addition to attending the national board meeting as (ACSA) Liaison, Hall was awarded an AIAS Legacy Citation; participated in a panel discussion, “Leadership: Working with Components and Administration;” organized a second meeting for AIAS faculty advisors and guests; and attended the AIA Gold Medal Exhibition reception.

2015-2016 MSU AIAS Officers:
President: Emily Turner
Vice President: Zac White
Treasurer: Ben Webster
Secretary: Kelli Weiland
Event Coordinators: Hannah Hebinck and Lucas Posey
Public Relations: Zach Henry
New Member Involvement: Anna Belle Neville

2015-2016 Freedom by Design Board:
Director: Rashidat Momoh
Project Manager: Yerix Morel
Fundraising Manager: Elizabeth Bueche
Public Relations/Historians: Ben Webster and Hannah Hebinck
Construction and Design Mentors: Professors John Poros and Leah Kemp

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