VLK Architects ' Designing Architecture Internship Learning Experiences for Arlington ISD

It would be an understatement to say that VLK Architects values education. As a firm that designs schools, no one would argue that we recognize the significance of education. However, we do more than design the built environment. We also help shape educational experiences! As standards are raised for public school districts across Texas, and expectations for college and/or career are higher than ever, VLK Architects plays an integral part by supporting instruction. We are designing learning experiences for high school students who aspire to join our industry.

Meet Matthew Do. Matthew, the oldest of three boys, is a senior at Martin High School in Arlington Independent School District where he excels due to his focused determination. Matthew is a mature young man who believes he is unique because he brings more motivation to school than many others. He has an extremely strong work ethic, and is able to visualize things differently than his peers. Most importantly, Matthew is certain of his belief in himself and others, knowing that the 'best things in life are done with a group of people' meaning creativity comes from a collaborative effort.

While working to gain an internship experience at Martin High School, Matthew began to look at his best options. During his thorough research of VLK, Matthew discovered that he had visited several VLK projects, including the Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, the bookstore at UT Arlington, and his own campus, Martin High School. Matthew interviewed for a semester long internship opportunity at VLK Architects. The interview team could tell right away that Matthew was the right candidate for the position. Chad Davis, Senior Associate shared, 'His organizational skills, maturity, and commitment to his education were evident.'

Matthew has experienced the real world of architecture at VLK Architects, rather than manufactured opportunities for surface learning. After eight weeks of his internship, he shared, 'This is pretty cool!' Matthew has been immersed in his internship experience with a stringent afternoon schedule, his own VLK e-mail account for communication needs, and a deliberate inquiry-based approach to the studio atmosphere of architecture. He admires the way our teams work together, and described it as a meaningful 'effort with a lot of people doing great things.' Working closely with VLK designers Niki Schoessow and Richard Hunt, Matthew is impressed with their ability to not work independently of one another, but to provide him with an example of teamwork he described as 'cohesive, creative, and collaborative.' In addition to working on a design competition project, Matthew has assisted VLK by drafting cabin floorplans for a church camp in Athens, Texas. He has also assisted with construction documents for Elementary #56 in Cy-Fair Independent School District in Houston, Texas.

Matthew stays active by playing both golf and basketball. He volunteers his time as a junior high basketball coach for Holy Rosary Catholic School in Arlington, Texas. He is inspired by his family. Specifically, he is appreciative of his grandfather who 'experienced war,' and had to become a part of something new by moving to a new country in order to begin a new life. In America, his grandfather was a contractor. Matthew recognizes his work as rewarding because he was able to 'work on projects to help people do what they do best.' Additionally, Matthew is grounded in the belief that people's actions define 'great things through work, not just what they say they will do.' His example of this is Edison's invention of the lightbulb, as his work produced both a creative and necessary outcome.

Matthew Do is an extraordinary student. He has a presence that is already earning him respect. Although very articulate, he shared that it was difficult to put into words the appreciation he has for the internship opportunity he is experiencing. He is thankful for the team effort. The entire VLK team has modeled for him a 'professional environment, assimilating' Matthew into the process. When asked if he had experienced any frustrations with his internship experience, he reported that 'work is not hard when you love it ' it's part of you.'