Saturday, February 4, 2012

San Luis Obispo Architecture Summer Program

My son, currently a high school sophomore, is interested in the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Architecture Summer Career Workshop. We have read all the materials provided on line by the program, but feel we could better assess the program if we could obtain additional information from independent sources. In several hours of web searching, I've come across your ARCHCareers blog several times, and can see the care and experience you put into your answers to other questioners. My question is relatively simple.

As with many things outside one's direct experience base, it's hard to determine, from a brief program description, what kinds of experiences a student would have in the program; what happens on a day-to-day basis? is it more theoretical or hands-on? what would be learned? what happens during the off hours? However, I am not asking you to answer these questions directly. What I am really looking for is a path to getting information from someone who has actually gone through the program. 

My understanding is that the program at SLO has been running for many years, and I assume there are at least several hundred people who've spent a summer there during high school over the past two decades. I would have expected at least some of them to have written a review, or blog, or some kind of comment about their experience. However, after several hours of searching the web, I've found not a single sentence written by someone about their experience there. Perhaps I just don't know where to look. So my question to you: do you know of any sources for such a review?  Alternatively, do you know any graduates of this program who would be willing to correspond?

With respect to your question, I know of no resources that directly provides reviews on the Architecture Summer Career Workshop at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  Having been involved with summer programs at three institutions including my current, the University of Illinois, I would suggest you contact the director of the program and ask for referrals and well as a better description on the program.
Mark Cabrinha -
California Poly State Univ. - SLO
One Grand Ave.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Wk: (805) 756-1316

Archinect - - does maintain a forum that you could post your question to solicit feedback.

Also, below is a link to an article on summer programs that I helped make happen with Architect Magazine.

Design Camp - Architect Magazine (September 2010)

For a list of all summer programs - visit -

I am sorry that I cannot be of more assistance, but do let me know if you have other questions as your son launches a career in architecture.  To that end, consider obtaining my book, Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition.

Dr. Architecture


Anonymous said...

I am also looking at the same program. I did speak to Mark and I know a few students who have attended and who have loved it. There is also an intensive program at the University of Southern California. It is pretty intense and I have spoken with a kid who went to the USC program and changed his mind about Architecture and went into Technical Design. And I spoke to a kid who went to Cal Poly and attended the USC School of Architecture. There is a YouTube video on the Cal Poly program and Mark will return a call so try that. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Video on Cal poly

Anonymous said...

In case you are still looking for information, I attended the Cal Poly summer program, though it was about 10 years ago and may have changed since then.

From what I recall, we were broken up into class sized groups to do a variety of projects that were taken from actual Cal Poly classes. We also had workshops on drawing and had occasional field trips (tours of local architecture firms, a trip to Hearst Castle, a few just for fun). The our work was not graded per se, near the end of the program we sat down individually with the adviser for an evaluation and discussion of our plans for the future.

I was between my junior & senior years as were most of the kids, though there were a few your son's age. The experience of living in the dorms felt very similar to actually being a college freshman. We were responsible for getting ourselves to class & to the cafeteria back to the dorms, etc. Adults & Cal Poly students acted as resident advisers in the dorms, but I do not remember there being a great deal of supervision.

I really enjoyed the experience. I learned a lot about doing things for myself, and it gave me a good sense of what to expect from an education in architecture. I do not know how it compares to programs at other schools, but I would recommend it to any high school student thinking about an education in architecture.

Architect97 said...

I'm also interested in the program but have been frustrated by the lack of information about it! I emailed Mark and got added to the email list but still no detailed information about the program...