Sunday, August 25, 2019

New STEM designation elevates UTSA graduate programs in architecture

New STEM designation elevates UTSA graduate programs in architecture

(March 20, 2019) -- The UTSA Master of Architecture and the Master of Science in Architecture have been awarded a unique science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) designation by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. UTSA is now the only Texas institution—and one of few universities in the nation—to have STEM CIP Code 04.0902 for its M. Arch. and M.S. in Architecture programs.

The Classification of Instructional Programs or “CIP Code” is a government-developed designation for academic programs, according to the primary subject matter of the programs’ content. CIP Codes help students identify areas of study with particular curricular emphases as well as programs that offer added benefits such as funding and visa status.

The new CIP Code will help UTSA recruit high-caliber students who want access to STEM-related architecture opportunities. It will also provide UTSA faculty members with the opportunity to compete for new types of research funding.

“Having both of our graduate programs recognized with the new STEM CIP Code will create a wide range of opportunities,” said Sedef Doganer, professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Architecture. “This new STEM designation positions UTSA Architecture at the forefront of the discipline and will allow us to break new ground in preparing students for success through architectural research, education and practice.”

The designation provides an additional 24 months of Optional Practice Training (OPT) for international students, with a total of 36 months of OPT employment after degree completion. This enhances opportunities for international students to secure work visas at the end of their educational journey.

The UTSA Department of Architecture has historically included STEM-related content in its program offerings. Additionally, many architecture faculty at UTSA conduct STEM-related research. As a result, UTSA’s M. Arch. and M.S. in Architecture graduates are prepared to develop design intentions and ideas with sound, research-based solutions.

“UTSA has always employed an applied STEM approach to both our architectural education and our professional practice,” said John Murphy, dean of the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning. “This new CIP Code is a validation of our efforts to differentiate our curriculum with a STEM emphasis.”

Research and development are crucial in improving and developing key concepts related to sustainability and problem solving for the user groups architects serve. In addition to applying advanced technologies and sustainable principles to building design and construction, architects lead multidisciplinary teams of designers, engineers and consultants to effectively integrate building systems and improve the public health and welfare.

In July of 2018, the United States Congress passed the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technology Education (CTE) Act, making architecture an officially recognized STEM subject. The bi-partisan act will allow states to use federal funds to modernize the CTE curriculum, allowing for an increase in available funds for high-school-level architectural education. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) lobbied for the change for several years, in the meantime bringing design to K-12 students through special programs and activities. The bill formalizes these efforts.

- Nicole Chavez


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