This past month NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) decided it was time to ask their record holders for a little feedback. The feeling to voice my opinion about NCARB strikes a desire similar to say, congress asking me how they could better serve the American people. I started the survey one day to find the process to take longer expected. I'm sad to say I did not complete the survey. At least I can happily know the perserverant managed to fill the result banks with dissatisfaction. So why is NCARB so bad?
I know very little about NCARB, except they enforce the rules and take my money for record keeping, so I decided I should take a look at potential issues. Naturally, my mind questions the current leadership and organization structure. I decided to read through the bylaws and looked at the leadership and discovered it's politics as usual. Members of the board have worked their way up a through the system and only serve a short and mostly unpaid terms. The terms are so short, when one reaches the executive board they are only allowed to serve for a year (two years for Presidents). For the powers that NCARB holds I would think the board would have a more influential tenure, after all, a typical collegiate student council has a longer allowed term.
Another drawback to the current board is age. The board is served by a wise old crowd of tested architects. Unfortunately, the generation of architects that lead our professional field are far from understanding the current wave of technology. This is a much larger issue of our field, but relates to how NCARB has implemented technology. Fortunately they have made advances in technology, but still don't have the refined feel that a tested architect would practice in detailing a building.
Two points of contention seem to come up in my circle of soon-to-be architects that might be the result of the generation gap. One is the Intern Development Program (IDP). While getting the process online deserves applause, it still largely reflects the old paper model. Why should one have to keep track of hours with a spreadsheet on their computer, to transpose the same numbers to an online sheet to send to the boss and NCARB?
IDP should skip a step and allow one to save unapproved hours online like an email draft . Then when the user is ready, they could send the logged hours to the boss and NCARB. (one can save unsent hours now)
Another point that is popularly irritating is the ARE (Architecture Registration Exam) drafting program. NCARB doesn't want to endorse one of the many popular drafting software. This seems logical as some people might not be familiar with AutoCAD. NCARB's solution was to developed their own poorly made drafting program that requires test takers to learn a software they will never use again. NCARB should allow all the software companies to load their drafting software and allow users to chose what they want. As long as the requirements are met in the drawings, who cares what program was used? Why not allow hand drafting (this seems more universal than a NCARB only program)?
These are not rocket science solutions, but ones that my generation might have a better insight on that could help the old guard and the profession. As designers and frequent users of the computer, young architects could make NCARB better than dealing with the DMV.