October 19, 2017 by 2019-2020 Equity & Diversity Task Force, 2019-2020 Sustainability & Resiliency Task Force, 2020-2021 Council of Global Representatives, 2020-2021 Learning & Teaching Culture Advisory Group, 2021-2022 Professional Development Advisory Group

The AIAS chapter at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo knows the tremendous value in students understanding what a career in architecture truly means. In September 2016, we started a yearlong lecture series with the intent to teach our students about the profession and what it’s really like to be working in the industry. This lecture series was called ARCHx. By bringing in practicing professionals, we are able to not only introduce students to different firms and career paths but also have them learn about the journeys of our speakers. Last year we hosted 7 guest speakers, and for the 2017-18 school year we have 8 planned lectures.

Cal Poly already does a great job of bringing in professionals to talk during their Hearst lecture series, but the goal AIAS had in mind is not only to provide students with a great lecture experience but also to provide speakers with which they are able to approach and feel more connected with. For this reason, we typically look for younger professionals that are typically at the beginning of their careers so students don’t feel so disconnected and are able to see themselves in the shoes of the speakers, as well as the speakers seeing themselves in the students.

Each individual ARCHx lecture is typically broken down into two parts: The presentation from the speaker and a tutorial they wish to show the students. During the presentation, the speaker tends to share their experiences with a variety of topics such as their career paths, starting a firm, practicing in other countries, or any other key parts of their journey in the profession. The following portion is the tutorial which also includes a Q & A session where the speaker is invited to give the students tips on designing, portfolio advice, or how to get started and promote one’s self in the field.

One key difference in the lecture series provided by us compared to others is that we don’t only ask our speakers to talk about their success, but rather we invite them to also share their struggles and the difficulties they may have experienced along the way. This is another way for us to help provide this atmosphere for the speaker and audience to feel more connected and make the experience more personal. We want our students to not only gain knowledge from these lectures, but also gain connections with those who they feel comfortable approaching and asking for help on their own paths in the future.