Friday, August 19, 2011

IDP is Immoral

There I said it.  For those who don't know, the Intern Development Program is one of three elements needed to become a licensed architect.  The other two are an accredited degree and completed exams.   Of the three, IDP is the only requirement which I vehemently disagree with.  I hope that if enough people agree with me this requirement can be eventually removed. 

An accredited degree is a requirement no one should disagree with.  After all, we must be sure that all student are learning the correct material and meet a minimum standard.  Hopefully all American architects have a somewhat shared experience in their respective architecture programs.  This gives us all a shared language and ability to communicate with one another.

The ARE, architecture registration exams are likewise an uncontroversial requirement.  All professions require an exam.  Architecture is no different.  Some might say that the exams are too hard based on the historical pass/fail rates (mid 60% on average).  The general idea however is sound.

The Intern Development Program is administered by NCARB with the idea of ensuring that all architects have a verified amount of work experience in a number of different categories.  If completed with near maximum efficiency this program should take about 3 years to complete.  This program is supposed to make sure that all architects have spent at least a year drawing construction documents, two weeks negotiating contracts, etc.  The exact amounts are not important the point is that there are a variety of relatively arbitrary time periods which must be met.  Apparently the reason for this requirement is that our accredited degree is inadequate and we are not ready to work unsupervised without additional "seasoning."

The reason I consider with requirement to be immoral is that it is the one section which the intern does not control.  This requirement is based completely on the whims of the local economy, the ability of the intern to relocate for work, and the quality of the work experience.  Academic progress and the exams are based on the intelligence and fortitude of the inter.  In contrast, if the intern cannot find work, they are SHIT OUT OF LUCK!

Yes, interns can complete small amount of IDP on they own, but the process requires that at some point the intern be employed.  I agree that experience is very valuable in anyone's education and certainly makes for a better architect.  However, the program should be voluntary, an "over and above" not a minimum requirement.  Architectural Record articals such are this: ( Are misleading because what intern in their right mind would go on record saying that the program blows?  

Additionally, Matt Arnold has published an interesting study showing that the average time to complete IDP is now approaching 12 years! ( Personally I believe that IDP is created to limit the number of architects and ensure a steady supply of serf labor who will stay at a firm just to complete IDP.  Perhaps there is no diabolical plot but this is certainly the result.

Many people complain about the state of the profession nowadays. Personally I believe that the profession will be really screwed in 10 years when all the baby boomer architects retire and there is not enough licensed architects to replace them. 

* I'm assuming that the baby boomer architects are able to retire and the economy will eventually recover.  In any case the baby boomer architects will certainly die at some point.

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