Structural Engr. transitioning to Architecture

Hello all,

I am currently a Junior studying Structural Engineering at Purdue however I am realizing that I am not creatively satisfied. I have started working on AutoCAD and Revit projects in my spare time however I really don’t have a lot of time to develop a portfolio with the amount of engineering coursework I’m taking.

and thus I have a few questions:

  • Are there any schools in the Midwest that allow you to develop a portfolio while taking intro Arch classes or prerequisites?
  • How can I develop a good portfolio in my spare time (design contests, online courses)?
  • Do you need a portfolio to get into a reputable MArch program?
  • Some firms do both Engineering and Architecture (eg. HOK), is it common for the company to help facilitate an employee going back to school?
  • How much overlap(really) is there between the fields of Architecture and Structural Engineering. Eg.- would an engineer be able to use knowledge of materials sciences and building materials in order to help creatively maintain the way a building looks or it’s “flow”.

I know this is a tall order but anything you could throw out there would be greatly appreciated. Until I can get an internship with an engineering/architecture firm I really have no idea what happens on the other side of the diploma.

If you can take intro to arch classes at Purdue take it. Those classes will have projects for you to do to put in a portfolio. Your work will be photodocumenting your process. To “develop” a good portfolio in the meantime, learn to draw, understand floor plans, sections, learn form and space, maybe even take an art history class, etc (check out Francis Ching’s Design Drawing book).

Well, as for the structural engineer and architecture overlap, its pretty significant. You can be sued if your design was “unsafe” and hurt a person. You will have to create structurally sound buildings. As one of my intro professors in arch told us, “even the transition from carpet to linoleum can get you sued if someone falls”. Your knowledge of materials will help. Don’t forget that you have to pass a licensure. That’s what I know as a student as far as overlap goes.

Like ID, Arch is a pretty intense major, I don’t think there’s much to choose from that would be just “intro” without being a declared Arch major first.

You don’t need a MArch to design buildings, just to be a licenced. That lets you use “architect” on your business card.

the vast majority of buildings are not done by architects at all, I’ve it heard as high as 90% if you count everything. If not done by just outright contractors, they’ll be done by individuals who have degrees but call themselves designers instead.

Given the very high unemployment rate among architects/designers now, it’s not likely you’ll get any assistence to go back to school from a firm.

I have college buddy and a brother in law who are Architects but you should confirm these points with some professors at Perdue, however.

I would go talk to someone on campus but Purdue doesn’t offer Architecture. However, landscape architecture is offered. Would one of these professors have more insight into the field of architecture?