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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

Architectural Technology Students Win By Design
Montgomery College Today, Spring '02

Cesar RamosEarlier this winter, students in the College’s architectural technology and interior design programs sat down to lunch with members of Torti Gallas, the county’s largest architectural design firm. Four students left the table with glory and cash prizes—a result of their success in the Third Annual Student Design Competition. The competition began in 1999 when Professor Randy Steiner, head of the architectural technology program, became exasperated that her students were excluded from architectural design competitions because they were not “third year students in accredited four-year institutions.”

Steiner’s competition opened the door to her proteges. “It’s a good way to brag about our students, and to make the industry aware of our program,” she said. Steiner asked Torti Gallas and Partners—designers of MC’s Parilla Performing Arts Center, on the Rockville Campus—to judge the contest and provide financial support. The firm enthusiastically accepted.

The competition was for an imaginary outdoor performance shell to be erected on the edge
of the duck pond at the College’s Rockville Campus. Students needed to take into consideration the acoustical needs, lighting, method of seating for the audience, and alternate energy source as well as handicapped accessibility. The students had six weeks to prepare their designs and create models, site plans, floor plans, and written essays to accompany them. Torti Gallas partners awarded first place honors to Cesar Ramos. Dhouha Chibani took second place, and honorable mentions went to Karima Muhammed and Ruth Crump. All four students are architectural technology majors.

In a Class by Itself
Only about a dozen community colleges nationwide offer programs in architectural technology. In fact, if a student wants to stick close to home and attend a public institution, he or she has only two choices: Montgomery College and the University of Maryland at College Park. The MC program prepares students for transfer to a four-year school, or for work in architectural firms right after college, doing drafting, specification writing, contract administration, project solicitation, and marketing.

Building on Reputations
Steiner, too, is in a class by herself. This past December, her peers in the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognized her twofold. They not only named her vice president of the board of directors, but also awarded her a presidential citation “for her efforts as president, vice president, board member, MS/AIA director, and advocate for students and women on behalf of the chapter.” The local chapter of AIA also honored MC Professor Shorieh Taalat, who teaches architectural technology, construction, and interior design. Taalat, who is also an MC alum, won a merit award for his design of a steel and glass enclosure used for covering escalators throughout the entire Metrorail system.