Members of PhilaU’s student chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) got the opportunity to learn from and network with some 250 national industry professionals at the group’s 2014 conference event held on campus Oct. 2.
The 42nd annual NOMA conference, held Oct. 1 to 4 in Philadelphia, brought the nation’s top minority architecture professionals to Philadelphia University for a networking reception and series of panel discussions Thursday evening.
“This is a great networking event for us,” said Richard Vilabrera Jr., a fourth-year architecture student and vice president of PhilaUNOMAS, the campus chapter of the group’s student division. “Having that broad of a network can really open doors to positions and professional relationships,” said Vilabrera, who is interested in pursuing a career with a design-build firm after graduation.
“Philadelphia University has the oldest NOMAS chapter in Philadelphia,” Barbara Klinkhammer, executive dean of the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, told the crowd of architects, interior designers and other design field professionals at the PhilaU event. “We have a very diverse campus, and we are proud to have a very active NOMAS chapter here.”
PhilaUNOMAS has more than 30 members, all of whom attended the national meeting event at PhilaU.
“Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box,” Steve Cromity, Daltile architectural representative, advised a group of PhilaU students during the networking reception. And, he added, “as soon as you guys have the chance to take an internship, take it.”
PhilaU alumnus Derrick Linton ’11 echoed the importance of experience. “Get yourself exposed to the industry through volunteering while in school,” he told the students.
Linton, who works at Boxwood Architects in Philadelphia, said, “PhilaU gave me the tools to go into the profession with the right foundation.” He said the small class sizes gave him invaluable one-on-one time with professors.
After the networking reception, attendees participated in panel discussions on Philadelphia’s unique built environment as explored through the frameworks of community, history and design.
Michael Spain, adjunct architecture faculty member and PhilaUNOMAS faculty advisor, moderated a discussion that included local leaders in the field.
As part of the 2014 NOMA conference, Rob Fleming, director of PhilaU’s M.S. in Sustainable Design program, was scheduled to talk on the connection between social equity and environmental sustainability on Friday, Oct. 3 at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia. Fleming and Assistant Professor of Architecture Donald Dunham also will present at a panel on graduate school programs that day.
PhilaU’s architecture program celebrated many student successes last year. A team of architecture and interior design students won first prize in the national 2013 ACSA Steel Design student competition, and architecture students won first place and finalist awards in the 2014 statewide John Stewardson Memorial Fellowship competition.
PhilaU’s signature Nexus Learning approach to higher education encourages active learning through real-world experiences. Architecture students frequently collaborate with students in other disciplines, as well as with community groups, through design projects.