SMACNA to Expand Outreach on Architectural Student Internship Program

SMACNA and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) will focus on the benefits of the program with students and members.

American Institute of Architecture Students

SMACNA and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) are continuing the launch of the new Architectural Student Internship program, with plans for outreach activities across the country this fall.

“This first year we are focusing on increasing awareness about the program among architecture students and SMACNA members,” said Thomas J. Soles, executive director of SMACNA Member Services. “A lot of HVAC contractors got into architectural sheet metal over the past decade, and that market is getting more attention.”

Soles said SMACNA will be reaching out to SMACNA contractors in the coming months and is participating in special events geared toward architecture students. SMACNA attended the AIAS Grassroots Leadership Conference on July 18. Kimberly Tuttle, director of partnerships and events at AIAS, will discuss the program with SMACNA architectural metals contractors at SMACNA’s annual convention in October.

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One goal of such outreach efforts is to communicate the many benefits of participating in the program. Supervisors and project managers at SMACNA firms can practice management skills while acting as student mentors, for ex-ample. They can also gain insight into the potential future of their workforce and how they impact how work gets done.

“We are excited about the opportunity to host architecture students as interns in our facility,” said Carol Duncan, CEO of General Sheet Metal, a SMACNA member contractor. “Having an AIAS architecture student working with sheet metal detailers and installers will provide them with a highly valuable experience they will carry with them for the rest of their careers. It also allows us the opportunity to help architects understand the value of bringing sheet metal contractors into the design discussions early on in a project. I know it will be a win-win for both parties.”

For participating students, a paid internship with a SMACNA company will give them hands-on experience in a dynamic sector of the construction industry, exposing them to high-level craftsmanship and the challenges of coordinating fabrication and installation.

“The AIAS is excited to partner with SMACNA to bring to our members the opportunity to work with other disciplines within the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry,” Tuttle said. “Through this program, students will have a chance to broaden their understanding of AEC relationships, creating better dialogue and working partnerships between future trade professionals.”

Soles said there are many other benefits possible through the Architectural Student Internship program, including some value to the broader sheet metal industry. He sees student interns eventually becoming industry advocates who can communicate with other design professionals about the importance of working more closely with contractors in the highly specialized field of architectural metals. 

“It’s an opportunity to improve the design/construction collaborative relationship,” Soles explained. “One of our goals is to minimize the perceived disconnect between the design community and con-tractors.”

Design community professionals are already important stakeholders on construction projects, and they are frequently good referral sources for SMACNA members. Soles said strengthening these relationships will pay dividends for both the design and architectural metals contracting communities.

For more information, including details about outreach activities near you, stay tuned for future SMACNA communications efforts.

SMACNA, in collaboration with the AIAS, prepared a guide to assist SMACNA members with establishing and implementing an architectural student internship program in their companies. The guide and a participation form are available online.