Sep 29th 2020

Four College of Architecture Students Receive Inaugural NOMA Fellowship

To provide more pathways to licensure for minority architecture students, the National Organization of Minority Architects Foundation created a new fellowship program that provides paid internship and mentorship opportunities for minority architecture students, as well as a stipend to go toward licensure.

The fellowship, in its inaugural year, was awarded to 30 architecture students nationwide–four of whom are current and recently graduated Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture students: In-San Chiang (B.ARCH. ‘20), Nimah Mohiuddin (B.ARCH. 4th Year), Olaoluwapo Odukoya (B.ARCH. ‘20), and Tyler Sauter (B.ARCH. ‘20).

The students worked at the firms Gresham Smith, Mass Design Group, CallisonRTKL, and CannonDesign, respectively.

“This internship has granted me the freedom to work remotely and maintain the valuable experience of a professional, even though digital, atmosphere,” says Sauter. “Even though this isn't what I was expecting to be doing six months ago, I'm a firm believer that there's always a silver lining in every situation and the fellowship is my silver lining to a COVID world.”

To be eligible for the fellowship, students had to be active members in their school’s NOMA student chapter. A group of Illinois Tech students restarted the chapter in 2018 after a hiatus, which has since been providing new networking opportunities and collaborative projects for its members.

“We saw that something was missing in our architecture community, and wanted to help make that change ourselves,” says Mohiuddin, now president of the College of Architecture’s NOMAS chapter. “Through establishing NOMAS here, we have been able to help advocate for our student body, foster collaboration amongst the college, and create meaningful connections with professionals in our local [Illinois] NOMA chapter. Over the years, this organization has given me so many opportunities to learn and grow as an individual.”

Initially created as an in-person program, it was adapted into an eight-week online program as a result of the pandemic.

“My Internship with CallisonRTKL has been really insightful, and working with designers all over the country and collaborating with them on projects is eye-opening,” says Odukoya. “It's a blessing getting this opportunity through NOMA to get this internship, especially during a time like this where it is hard to get a job, and it is a good way for me to network with designers from CallisonRTKL and understand their design process and workflow.”

Though creating new pathways for minority architects has always been a necessity in the architecture field, the program took on newfound significance in a summer of widespread protests advocating for racial justice and during an economic recession—which disproportionately affect minority populations—caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During this time of economic uncertainty, we have an imperative to support the next generation of minority architects looking to find their way in the profession and the NOMA Foundation Fellowship program is helping us to achieve that,” says NOMA President and HOK Architects Principal Kimberly Dowdell. “Mentorship, experience, and exposure are all key to the success of any architect.”

Image courtesy of NOMA Foundation.