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The Future of Architecture and Construction Education

Henry Ford College Chair of Building Sciences Chad Richert and Michigan State University Assistant Professor of Construction Management Dr. George Berghorn appeared on the May 22 episode, number E186 of The Inside Outside Guys on WJR, discussing the future of architecture and construction education (they can be heard on this podcast starting at 34:15).

“We’ve really come a long way with our building sciences program at HFC,” said Richert. “We’ve worked really hard recently to bring a bunch of programs together. Our programs include architecture, construction, interior design… It’s a great opportunity for us to reach out to students who are looking to continue their education and provide a pathway to the trades.”

He continued: “One of the things I really love about HFC is we are hands-on. Have a construction lab. Teach drawing and design details. We talk about how buildings go together, how the trades work together, then they’re pouring concrete and they’re framing roofs and trusses, so the connection and the discipline are just so important.”

Added Berghorn: “The technical aspect is important, but so is how to communicate, how to speak the business, how to sound confident and competent, so that people trust you and trust the work you’re going to do with them.”

“The market is wide open right now”

Recently, HFC and MSU formed a partnership through a grant from the National Science Foundation – “Enhancing Design and Construction Technology through the Context of Mass Timber.”

“We can build structural elements and decking for buildings out of large, cross-sectional, engineered lay-ups of wood and resin. So it’s an addition to using steel and concrete in our structural systems,” explained Berghorn. “There are a lot of components that go along with that… it’s a real paradigm shift within the industry. MSU has made it a priority to get out ahead of that paradigm shift. We built the first mass timber building in the state of Michigan on the MSU campus.”


Berghorn pointed out that a major barrier to getting more mass timber implemented in the United States is a lack of workforce training and education. This led to him and Richert to draft a proposal to build a model curriculum for architecture and construction higher education programs exposing students to mass timber. Other universities involved include Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL and Ball State University in Muncie, IN.

“Let’s fix this training and education problem,” said Berghorn. “This will put another tool in their toolbox, so when students go out to get a job, they have another feather in their cap to make them more competitive in the job market and become agents of change as we move into this mass timber side of the industry. The market is wide open right now.”

“I’ve been fortunate this year to work closely with George and seeing our students collaborating on real-world projects. This demonstrates that they learned the skills from our program and also have the confidence to work in the field and work with other partners from the industry,” said Richert. “It’s wonderful to see our students working with MSU students, communicating with building owners, clients. They’re doing something they love to do and worked so hard to get. I’m really proud to be part of our program and what we’ve developed.”

Richert noted that the HFC program includes architecture, construction, interior design, and civil technology. So students will be well-versed across silos, which will make them incredibly valuable to employers.
Source: Henry Ford College

HFC’s Chad Richert talks architecture, design, construction on “The Inside Outside Guys” podcast

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