Do you remember your first year of college?  That roller coaster of emotions that students face, from the fear of getting a difficult professor, or worse yet, a weird roommate, or walking into your first lecture hall and hoping you know someone. Yes, entering college can be tortuous, and then there’s entering the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (eCAP) in your first year, where we definitely pull you out of your comfort zone.

While eCAP students have all of those emotions and more, we find it gratifying to watch them progress as the year goes by.  Yes, there are some who will not make it, but for those who do, the possibilities for their career potential are limitless. In this edition of reCAP, we wanted to take a further look into what our first-year students are learning. The first year for a student in our college can go in one of three directions; a major in Construction Management, a major in Pre-Interior Design, or a CAP First-Year major.

The freshmen in the Construction Management program jump right into learning about their major. They start with the introductory course (CM 104), which provides an overview of the industry and the many career opportunities in it. Practical exercises and teamwork are emphasized in topics such as estimating, scheduling, materials, and others that are covered in depth in subsequent courses. Freshmen also learn how to read and interpret construction documents such as plans, specifications, and contracts in the CM 180 class, and learn how to use electronic tools such as AutoCad and building information modeling (BIM) software. Students also start taking classes in the required Business Administration minor to provide a solid foundation in business.

Paxson Campbell, who will begin his second year in the Construction Management program this fall, said his favorite freshman class was CAD for Construction Management (CM106). “This was my favorite because it enabled me to learn the basics of AutoCAD and Revit, two forms of software that are widely used in the construction industry. Because I would not consider myself a tech-savvy individual, this course challenged me, but also certainly changed my perspective with regards to CAD and BIM.”

Campbell was unsure about his decision to pursue a degree in Construction Management until he spoke with Dr. Jim Jones, the department chairperson.  Dr. Jones suggested that he look for a summer internship. While it is unusual for a freshman student to participate in an internship, Campbell wasn’t deterred and applied to several companies.  Weigand Construction contacted him and interviewed him the next day. Campbell has been working as a project engineering intern this summer.  “My main duties this summer were to handle a portion of the submittal and RFI processes as well as miscellaneous items that came up each week. I am now beginning my final week working for them this summer and could not be more content with the impact this opportunity had on me”, he stated.

Freshmen in the Pre-Interior Design program start with the foundation courses. Beginning with the introductory course (IDES 100), which provides an overview of the industry and the many career opportunities in it. Developing creativity, graphic communication skills, team work, and presentation techniques are emphasized in most courses. These topics and others are covered in depth in subsequent courses. Freshmen learn visualization, sketching techniques and perspective drawings in IDES 101; design elements and principles in IDES 110; rendering techniques in IDES 111; presentation techniques in IDES 112; materials and finishes in IDES 115; and computer application in IDES 120. Students will document their works in a graphic portfolio in February of their first year which will be submitted to the Interior Design Review Committee in order to be admitted to the Interior Design Program (sophomore year).

(architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning)

The CAP First-Year Program exposes incoming students to a broad foundation of knowledge in the design disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. It introduces the concept that environmental planning and design are interconnected with all other disciplines. The program focuses on the relationship of societal need to environmental context through both scientific and humanistic thought. To meet these goals, students enroll in an instructional core of six required courses. Two studios and a design communication course develop their core design thinking and presentation abilities. Three separate seminars introduce them to the allied professions of urban planning, landscape architecture, and architecture. CAP first-year majors also produce a portfolio that includes their work in first year and a writing sample for entry into their second year of their chosen major.

We asked Grace Wierenga, a freshman from Granger, Indiana, what she expected her first year in eCAP to be like and she replied, “I expected first year to have more work with drafting and technical work. I definitely didn’t expect to start off with an invisible city.”

Wierenga reflected back on her first year in eCAP saying, “I learned so much I barely know where to start. Everything really built up, but composition was a great way to start it all off. I was able to work on my drawing skills and model building the most. However, I also learned a lot outside of studio in the other CAP 100 classes. Particularly in Landscape Architecture, all about water distribution and sustainability, which sparked my desire to minor in Landscape Architecture.”

After inquiring about the advice current students would provide to incoming students, Campbell stated, “keep yourself organized, stay ahead of the game whenever possible, and take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, as you may surprise yourself with what you are able to accomplish and how much you are able to grow over the course of just one year.”

Your freshman year may be filled with more questions than answers but we can attest your time at Ball State and in eCAP is loaded with professional growth from the very first day.