Our blog post this week is the start of a new series focused on alternative career paths in architecture. Our first guest is a student from graduate studio, Austin Weisman. Austin is a design manager at Wright Pratt Air Force base in Dayton Ohio and will be welcome at our Co-op fair if anyone has additional questions about his path.
How did you find out about this opportunity?
My mom's friends' younger brother is my boss, but more opportunities for people without those connections can be found at USAjobs.gov around the country (and some international).
How does this job help students?
There is a student program called PCIP which lasts between 10-12 weeks (and leads into PAQ) and you can also earn AXP hours while working on base. Additionally, there are plenty of scholarships since this position is aging out fast in the military with large sign-on bonuses, programs to pay-back college cost, and full tuition if you work for two years after graduation. You need a MArch degree later on here so you can essentially get one for free and paid through these options.
Do you have to be a member of the military?
No you do not. I, and ¾ employees, are civilians. As a civilian on base, you can work up to a base civil engineer. But, upper bosses are enlisted in the military.
Do you need any security clearance for these jobs?
There are three types of security clearance on base: No clearance, Secret clearance, and Top-Secret clearance.
Why did you choose this position?
For medical reasons I was rejected from enlistment after high school. This is my way of supporting the country how I can. Because everything I do in some way helps America. While my role here is in an office, there are positions that are sent into war zones to help rebuild damage.
Have you considered applying for these “war zone” positions?
I did at first, but civilians are unable to carry a firearm and I would not want to go around unable to protect myself.
What programs do you use on the base?
The program mainly used is AutoCad. We are only allowed to use programs that we can host private servers with. Because of this, there is no Revit as of now.
What types of students are they looking for?
They really like students that understand how buildings are put together. A construction internship before applying could be very beneficial. Another recommendation is to take the accelerated master's program classes and get into codes. We use our own set on base projects, but it is good to have some background with the material in general.
What happens if you want to change jobs, can you just leave since it the military?
Because I am a civilian yes, I can. Leaving would impact scholarships and the monetary side, but there is nothing that forces you to stay in the program.