Alaina Olsen attends Design Discovery at Mississippi State University

St. Patrick Catholic High School Junior Alaina Olsen recently attended Design Discovery at Mississippi State University College of Architecture Art + Design (CAAD).

CAAD at Mississippi State University offers this eight-day summer workshop, intended to answer many of the questions about architecture and interior design as a field of study and as a profession. The major goal of the workshop is to simulate the information, skill and the intensity required for a design education, while providing a clear insight into the practice. With this experience, it will be possible for the participants to make an informed career decision about architecture and its related disciplines.

Regarding the experience, Alaina said, “The College strongly advises attending Design Discovery before freshman year. I figured this was the best summer to because we would be delving into what it is like to be an architect, and I planned on using Design Discovery to make that decision. There were only four or five rising juniors in the program, as most were rising seniors and rising college freshmen. The experience was a lot less stressful because while for the freshman, it was like an orientation, but for me, it was more of a trial period.”

She continued, “We were put into groups of six at the beginning of the week and there were only 36 participants in the program. My group was made up of people from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. We did individual projects, such as model making and house plans, and our group projects included making a shelter of bamboo, string, and cloth as well as a working chair made out of cardboard. The first few projects were very abstract, but as the week went on, they became more and more realistic. The purpose, it was revealed later, was to reflect each year of architecture school. During your first year, you don’t do any projects even resembling a building; it’s all the basics. As you go through each year, you become more and more qualified for building projects. We also had overlapping projects throughout the week, which we were told would happen many times, even in the same class.”

The camp also included researching case studies and best practices. Alaina said, “We watched documentaries about artists and architects and presented our projects to a professor and a jury consisting of all of the group leaders and the director. Our groups became close, and because it was such a small camp, we got to be friends really quickly with everyone. The leaders told us that what we would experience that week was similar to architecture school, and based on what I told my dad, who went to Mississippi State for architecture and is licensed, it was very much the same.  I am very grateful to have gone through Design Discovery because my desire to be an architect was affirmed. During a round table session, we learned how to be prepared for classes there. I had the advantage to find out what classes I need to take before applying and which AP classes count most. I am extremely excited to hopefully start architecture school in two years! I still would like to see some other programs, but I am sure of my profession.”