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    BAC Celebrates Newest IPAL Graduates

    By thebacboston
    Sep 15, '20 9:20 AM EST

    The path to becoming a licensed architect is not for the faint of heart. According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), in 2019 the average time to earn a license was 12.7 years, with the average age at licensure being 32.

    Through the Boston Architectural College's IPAL program, our students are able to work towards completing their licensure while simultaneously earning their degree, allowing them to significantly reduce the time it takes to become a licensed architect. Since 2015, there have been 3 graduates from the BAC's IPAL program.

    Shawn Willett (B. Arch ‘20) and Cameron Simko (M. Arch ‘20) are the two newest BAC graduates to complete their licensure requirements by graduation, joining BAC's first IPAL graduate Travis Wiegand from 2019.

    Shawn Willett (B. Arch ‘20)

    Cameron Simko (M. Arch ‘20)

    "Once I graduated, I wanted a clean transition to being an architectural professional. Now I can focus on my growth in other ways - I can explore architectural passions, devote myself fully to complex projects, and network with other professionals all with the respect that comes with the title of architect," shared Simko.

    For Simko, the IPAL program meant he could reach his goals faster and ultimately spend more time in the field as an architect.

    "When the company I work for hired me two years ago they made an investment knowing that I was still working towards my graduate degree. The IPAL program has allowed me to showcase that I was a good investment and prove my worth as an employee. In a matter of months I went from being a designer that was still in school to being a licensed architect with an advanced degree. I have surpassed my colleagues who are taking the more traditional path of getting licensed and as a result have shown my company how valuable I am," Simko shared.

    "This is especially pertinent during COVID and the economic recession that has accompanied it. The hard work that comes with being in the IPAL program has earned me flexibility and trust when working remote and during economic uncertainties."

    Cameron Simko in studio at the BAC

    BAC graduate Shawn Willett began his educational career before the IPAL program became available at the BAC. With already 9 years of experience, Willett decided to take advantage of this new opportunity.

    "The IPAL program was a game changer, mostly because I already had so much experience during my 11 years at the BAC. Although I already had a full-time, engaging job, it let me hit the ground running after graduation," Willett shared.

    Willett offers a word of advice to future architects, "The IPAL program is a logical step if you want to compress the amount of time spent learning, studying, and preparing for licensure. It requires a pretty strong commitment to self-disciplined studying though, because taking the exams (which are extremely difficult) too early and failing can result in a loss of motivation or self-confidence if you aren't ready. Only the most motivated and aspiring students should consider adding it into their lifestyle during the already-demanding BAC curriculum."

    One of those motivated and aspiring students is Andrew Mitchell, who's a current BAC Bachelor of Architecture student prepared to graduate in December 2020 and has already completed NCARB's AXP and ARE requirements for licensure. For Mitchell, the IPAL program is less about just completing licensure requirements and more about taking the fastest route to pursue a passion.

    Andrew Mitchell (B. Arch '20)

    "I fell in love with architecture at the BAC, and licensing took a back seat until my final year. Then, unexpectedly, it was clear I should focus on the AREs during the pandemic. I'm not sure quite how to say it, but somehow the restrictions and requirements went from being a chore or an annoying barrier to overcome, to becoming part of the wild and complex art of architecture and beyond," Mitchell said.

    For Mitchell, the BAC's concurrent education, which requires students to work in the field, is what has prepared him most for passing his exams.

    "I've been with Architectural Design Inc. on Cape Cod for 5 years now and the firm has been a huge support. For example, I was particularly nervous about my first exam, Practice Management, and so at one point the principals sat down with me to go over how "Practice Management" works in our office. It would be difficult to overstate how supportive the firm has been and how essential that has been for the testing process," Mitchell said.

    Student Work: Andrew Mitchell

    Studio Model by Andrew Mitchell

    Mark Rukamathu, Director of Special Projects, IPAL and Architect Licensing Advisor at the BAC, helps students successfully navigate their unique paths to licensure during their time at the BAC.

    "It is amazing to see our students achieve such feats, I cannot congratulate them enough! I know how difficult the whole licensure process is (took me 15 years post-graduation). I'm very happy to assist our students with this so they don't have to go through the long, complicated, and frustrating struggle I did. Our IPAL students are very dedicated and determined individuals. It is my hope that the IPAL initiative will have a long-term positive transforming effect on the profession," Rukamathu shared.

    Additionally, having an architecture license typically equates to higher compensation/salary. IPAL graduates, with their architecture license, can now raise the bar for a recent graduate's earning potential.

    Of all IPAL programs nationwide, there have been a total of 11 successful IPAL graduates, three of which are from the BAC and a fourth joining this December.

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The #BACbuzz blog will help to inform, educate, and share relevant and noteworthy architectural and design news happening within the Boston Architectural College and around the Boston community.

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