Say “hello” to Geoff DeSmit, who joined Axis Architecture + Interiors in 2012 and is the firm’s most recent licensed architect. Geoff, a Ball State University graduate, received his license this past summer, after nine years of school, tests, and the Architectural Experience Program. Here’s what he said to say about the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) and the importance of licensure.
Do you have any advice for those about to start – or those who are in the middle of – the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) process?
Take the tests at a pace you are comfortable with. I have colleagues who took one every other week and passed them all on the first try, and others who took one every other month. Everyone studies and takes tests differently. It’s not important how long it takes to study – set your own schedule based on your habits.
What is the significance of having an American Institute of Architects (AIA) distinction?
For me, being a member of the AIA is the best way to stay engaged with the profession. As members of AIA, we are required to fulfill continuing education units to ensure we are staying at the forefront of the design profession. It’s so important to stay in-the-know with current technology, materials, and standards. In addition, being an AIA member provides amazing networking opportunities – not just with other architects, but with contractors, suppliers, and building owners.
Why do you feel it’s important that young architects pursue licensure?
Like other professions that work and deal with public life safety, being a licensed architect enables you to carry liability insurance and stamp your own drawings. From a client’s perspective, licensure comes with the expectation of a certain level of expertise and of continued learning. For me, licensure was all about being able to represent myself as an expert in my field. It also means I could start my own practice one day; my wife is also an architect, and that’s something we’ve talked about for the future.
Was there an aspect of the tests that had you stumped?
I think my biggest struggle with the tests wasn’t with the content, but with figuring out what the question was really asking. A lot of the time, the possible answers seemed extremely subjective, or it looked like the question was trying to trick you. This doesn’t include the questions that asked you to “select the four most correct answers of the six below”!
How does “real life” differ from the knowledge you had to learn for the exams?
When it comes to structural design, the only numbers you need to know are the seven digits of your favorite structural engineer.
The ARE process has changed a great deal over the years, and is currently transitioning to ARE 5.0. Any guesses as to what the exam process will look like for future generations?
I think the biggest change they are making is focusing the content to more practical situations, and around the progression of a typical architectural project. I think moving away from the archaic software used in the drawing portions is the right direction, too. With advancement in BIM and the way we “draw” buildings, the drawing portions were long-outdated as a means to test current knowledge. Moving forward, I really think the AIA and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards want to streamline the testing process, and work with accredited universities to make sure architectural students are more prepared coming out of school.