FAU’s Institute for Design and Construction: Teaching Construction Trades for Over 20 Years

by Roberto Santiago & Alberto Fernandez | Tuesday, Jun 01, 2021
FAU’s Institute for Design and Construction: Teaching Construction Trades for Over 20 Years

The Institute for Design and Construction, based at the Fort Lauderdale campus, has been in existence for over 20 years at Florida Atlantic University. "At its inception, it was known as the Florida Institute for Safety and Construction (FISC) and at that time the Institute found that the needs of the local construction community fell into three categories: Safety Science, Construction Technology, and Construction Management. These categories evolved over the years as the Institute provided continuing education and training to the construction community," said IDAC Director Andrew M. Hayes, a professor in FAU’s School of Architecture, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters. "The courses offered in the Safety Science Program meet the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards."

For individuals interested in the construction industry, the Construction Technology Program offers the opportunity to become a Construction Project Coordinator (CPC). The CPC certificate provides individuals with the skills needed in the construction industry such as blueprint reading and estimating. Finally, the Construction Management Certificate Program (CMCP) teaches individuals how to manage a construction company. Individual classes are offered within each of these areas and the certificates are a culmination of several classes deemed necessary by the Institute. Many of the courses are approved by the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DPBR).

In 2004 the Institute was absorbed by the what was known as the College of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs (CAUPA) when FAU decentralized the Division of Open University and Continuing Education. FAU moved the Institute under the auspices of CAUPA because of the natural fit with the School of Architecture. The School of Architecture has become very involved with the Institute by influencing the name change, the development of new courses, and in May of 2008 the addition of a new Executive Director.

In August of 2008 the Institute’s name was changed from the Florida Institute for Safety and Construction (FISC) to the Institute for Design and Construction (IDaC). This name change was made in an effort to be more inclusive of the allied design and construction trades. IDaC is also adding a design category to compliment the three existing categories. The design category will include courses for architects to collect Continuing Education Units and for intern architects to further their education and assist in Architecture Registration Exam preparation.

"The Institute has had two long term successes," said Director Hayes.For more than a decade, the Architecture Summer Institute has been providing High School age students with an immersive experience in the architecture career field, as well as what it is like to major in Architecture at FAU. During that time students participated in a design studio experience with multiple hands-on 2-d and 3-d projects created. They also toured the FAU School of Architecture in the HEC building in downtown Ft Lauderdale, as well as multiple architecture offices in order to see first-hand the professional environment of an architect’s studio. To date more than 400 students have completed the two week seminar with over 20 students being accepted to the FAU School of Architecture Upper Division. The majority of whom successfully completed the professional degree program obtaining the Bachelor of Architecture five-year professional degree.

Prior to 2008, as the Florida Institute for Safety and Construction (FISC), the Institute provide our Construction Management Certificate Program in multiple locations within the Florida Prison system as part of a five year grant received by Florida Atlantic University. This grant paid for teacher salary and program administration. During that time over 300 students completed the program, obtaining critical skills to enable them to successfully transition into the construction industry upon release.

IDaC focuses upon professional development courses, certification training, and licensure test preparation for both the design and construction industries. The Institute facilitates merging design and construction professionals in upgrading their job skills in order to win promotions and advance their careers. Most commonly students are already working in the construction industry and utilize the professional development courses offered in spring, summer and fall each year to obtain the Construction Technician or Construction Manager Certificate.

IDaC graduates serve in supervisory and management positions at a multitude of construction companies across Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties. Graduates of our exam preparation courses are licensed architects and licensed general contractors throughout southeast Florida, many of whom own and lead their own successful companies.

In Fall 2021, IDaC will launch the Construction Technology Training Program. This three-course series targets small to medium size general contracting firms to assist with technology training for their employees. Generally, these size construction firms are not the best when it comes to training new hires. Limited resources and project deadlines usually limit the initiation of new employees and many people end up enduring a painful process of on-the-job training. This new on-line program will allow students to work at their own pace as the learn about technology basics and state-of-the-art digital tools being utilized by technology leaders in the construction industry. Graduates of this program will learn multiple digital skills which will enable them to increase the efficiency of themselves and have a positive impact to the bottom line of the companies where they are employed.

In early 2022, a new Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Certificate Program will be rolled out by IDaC. This three-course series will teach Architects, Designers and Interns how to utilize these new sensory immersion tools. Graduates of the program will learn how to design and create buildings which can be digitally modeled and placed into a virtual or real environment to then be experienced by clients and users through the use of 3-d headset technology. "Graduates of this certificate program will also learn to create applications to increase efficiency of graphic user interfaces on multiple platforms including desktop computers, laptop computers and smart phones," Hayes said.