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I was an aspiring young professional in the Foundations of Multi-Disciplinary Design: Architecture and Engineering. My strand met at Shive-Hattery, an architecture and engineering firm in West Des Moines, and was led by Mr. Cooper.

During my semester at Shive-Hattery, I got the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects that included: a university hall renovation, creating new configurations for the layout of an office space at Hy-Vee’s corporate office, designing a convention booth for Shive-Hattery, organizing a materials closet to be more practical and functional also at Hy-Vee’s corporate office, and laying out a workout space for teachers at Prairieview School.

These projects ranged in timelines and demands, which allowed my peers and I to explore our different strengths and weaknesses along with learning about design and engineering. All classes allow students to take risks and learn new things in a work environment without the consequences of a real job. When students do eventually enter the workforce, they are a step ahead of other new employees who didn’t learn these professional skills ahead of time.

Working alongside experienced architects and engineers also allows students to network with professionals early on, which then gives you an advantage later on in your career. At Shive-Hattery, we created resumes, cover letters and portfolios and interview for a summer internship with the company. From this experience, I gained a lot of knowledge about the professional business world and about specific careers I would like to pursue in the future.

My favorite part about the APEX program was getting the chance to work outside of a typical classroom. It was a refreshing change of scenery and I enjoyed the independence and freedom we had to work at our own pace.