Studying Architecture Hands On
In the winter of my pre-Junior year, I committed to completing Drexel's BS/MS program with the goal of earning my Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a concentration in structures. Of course, this demanding plan of study would require that I make sacrifices throughout the second half of my academic career — less free time, more challenging classes, etc. As such, in my mind, I had ruled out the possibility of participating in a traditional study abroad program, as it would be virtually impossible to enroll in such a demanding course load abroad.
Last fall, however, a previous architecture history professor reached out to see if I, or any of my peers, would be interested in a different type of study abroad, an Intensive Course Abroad for the upcoming summer. An Intensive Course Abroad is a two-week trip, usually between terms, that follows a class taken during the previous term. The class culminates in the two-week trip which, in this case, was about the architecture, culture, and history of Barcelona, Spain. Initially, I was hesitant to join the class, as I would be one of only a handful of engineers taking part in a class predominantly made up of students studying architecture and interior design. I was assured, however, that it was perfectly acceptable for engineers to join this trip and that their presence has augmented previous trips with a unique perspective to buildings and the built environment.
I am incredibly grateful that I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and enroll in this Intensive Course Abroad as I gained more from this course than I ever imagined. Being able to not only learn about a city and culture through its unique architectural history, but to then actually experience the buildings and sites firsthand is an experience I will never forget. Furthermore, learning alongside students pursuing careers different than my own (architecture and interior design) provided insight and perspective that I didn't even know I previously lacked. Having taken this course, I now feel better equipped to interact and collaborate with architects and interior designers more effectively, something I will certainly do throughout my career as a structural engineer.
To any Drexel student who wants to study abroad but thinks that it may not be possible, I highly recommend enrolling in an Intensive Course Abroad — it truly was an unforgettable and incredibly rewarding experience.
Albert Hanan (Class of 2020) is an Architectural Engineering major from Seattle, WA.