Monday, September 29, 2014

ARI: Student Intern Program

As the clinical arm of UDC’s Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, ARI combines real world experience with education. Both staff and students engage in solving real architectural and design problems. This offers students valuable experience in what working for an architecture firm entails with experience in pre-design, design and project management; all important skills architecture firms look for when hiring qualified candidates. Internships with ARI are limited to top performing 4th year and graduate UDC Architecture majors and are governed by land grant program criteria and availability. 

CAUSES research assistant, Arielle Gerstein, sat down with two former Architectural Research Institute (ARI) interns, Yoftahe Woldemariam and Sarah Mousavizadeh to ask about their experiences in working with the Institute. Their projects focused on low-income residences in the District. Eligible, low-income District residents may apply for housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD). A team of interns work on each project. The students start by evaluating their sites - speaking with the homeowners, taking measurements, and putting their data into Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. They also learn how to create scope of work and cost estimates.

Yoftahe described two projects that he particularly enjoyed involved redesigning certain parts of the homes to fit the needs of the disabled homeowners. The students, had to add handicapped ramps and increase door width in the drawings. He adds that the best part of the experience was teamwork and learning how to balance the needs of the client with the practical design aspects. Yoftahe is currently an undergraduate in Architecture in his senior year. He has always wanted to be an architect and has experience in home remodeling from his home country, Ethiopia. His goal is to be an urban architect in the District. 

Sarah is a master’s student in Architecture and this past summer she completed her third internship with ARI: “I learned the process that you do in real work – site observation, construction documents, field reports, and cost estimates,” she explained.

Sarah feels that the internship was very much based in practical skills that can be applied to working in the field. Originally from Iran, and she has lived in the United States for six years. She previously did graphic design in her Iran and then moved to Armenia and studied classic architecture. Sarah graduated from UDC with her bachelor’s degree last May and plans to continue working on residential properties after she is a certified architect. 

For more information on the ARI Student Intern program, contact Prof. Clarence Pearson at

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