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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?


by Lilian Asperin-Clyman 


Each one of our Jurors has a story to tell about an experience that took them to that place just outside of his or her comfort zone.  That’s why they are perfect to collaborate as Jurors for the EQxD Hackathon. They share a passion for working on “firsts” and not being afraid to find the path (or the support network) to move from idea to realization.  Our selection of Jurors is diverse by design, thereby representing a collective and multivalent discussion informed by gender, cultural background, role in the AEC industry, and years of experience.

Obiekwe “Obi” Okolo: AIAS Vice President (2015), Musician, Designer, Millennial

The unique experience of living in Lagos, Nigeria during childhood shaped Obi’s perspective and passion for doing good for the world. To gain greater understanding about design, he studied at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA), where he received a degree in Interior Architecture.  Concurrent with his studies, Obi immersed himself within the community of fellow students and served as Chapter President of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) for two concurrent years.  It was during that time that his began working on aid-based design – a way to blend humanitarian efforts and entrepreneurship. When you get to know Obi better, you learn about his love for listening to and playing music.  So, of course, we have asked him to review our Hackathon playlist!  

“Now more than ever we must be conscious of the things we do and the way we do them. We can’t be afraid to ask challenging questions about the direction of Architecture. As our profession rapidly changes and evolves, it is crucial that we have leaders in place who are not afraid to ask those questions. Powerful women and men who don’t mind rocking the boat a bit if it means a brighter future for architecture and architecture students alike. That's how we achieve equity, ­ constant discomfort and self-reflection." – Obi Okolo


Curtis Rodgers: BASCS President, Hacker, Field Solutions Manager, Gen X

Curtis has assembled a series of experiences and educational background which culminates in what he does as a member of McCarthy Building Companies today.  As a student at Texas State University in San Marcos, he obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Technology.  Curtis changed his direction with time in the field, originally as a Construction Engineer for Kiewit then moving to San Francisco to join PlanGrid’s Operations team.  With such a unique blend of skill sets and first-hand experience in construction, Curtis has been focusing on how to bring value through efficiency.  To achieve this, he crafted the differentiating role Field Solutions Manager with current employer, McCarthy Building Companies.  When he is not in problem-solving mode, he likes to shoot sporting clays or go mountain biking with his girlfriend.

“User interface design, enterprise technology, and robotics have matured to the point that many AEC challenges are now addressable. Those who understand both the problems that need to be solved and the technologies available will thrive, as they improve the quality of life and problem solving capacity of our incredibly hard working AEC community.” – Curtis Rodgers

Melinda Rosenberg: WRNS Studio Partner, Architect, Director of Human Resources, Boomer

Melinda has always been curious about understanding and shaping culture. She arrived at WRNS in 2005 and helped open their doors, ushering in the vibrant, creative, diverse and hard-working ethos that has helped WRNS become the nationally recognized design firm it is today.  WRNS is truly about its people, and Melinda has recruited and helped retain the best. Since day one, they’ve attracted an incredibly talented group of designers and professionals who are committed to good design, social and environmental stewardship and critical discourse.  With no shortage of parties and social outings, Melinda knows how to balance the culture of hard work with play.

“The opportunity to be involved in the work, growth and culture of WRNS since its launch has been hugely rewarding. We are a very different Studio than we were at year 1, when we started with 5 folks and have grown to 75.  “Building” a studio is not too different from what I enjoy most – being a tourist in my own city. The energy and staff in the Studio has always kept me driven to keep exploring, evolving and improving.  This is a great time for Architects and the Bay Area, I’m so proud to be a part of it.” –Melinda Rosenberg

EQxD Hackathon in ATLAIANTA!

From Silicon Valley to Atlanta, we are excited to bring this energizing, innovative and fun learning opportunity to AIA National Convention. What is a Hackathon? To find out, join us for this special pre-convention workshop on Wednesday 5/13 1-5pm WE310 Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action! Full details and registration information available here.

Can't make it to the Hackathon? Join us for the recap, jury results, and networking at Studio No. 7 which is walking distance from the Georgia World Congress. 

If you are a student, emerging professional, or newly licensed architect, we have scholarships to WE310 EQxD Hackathon thanks to the generosity and support of our sponsors, Autodesk, McCarthy Building Companies and WRNS Studios. 

Read past blogs by Lilian Asperin-Clyman about the EQxD Hackathon experience:


Learning from Silicon Valley

Anatomy of the EQxD Hackathon

Meet the EQxD Hackathon Jurors!

Perfecting your Pitch!



Anatomy of the EQxD Hackathon

by Lilian Asperin Clyman

Hackathons provide an energizing and alternative method to discover, unleash, and create through proximity, design thinking, and technology.  It’s what happens when you incubate passion with talent and suspend fear. It’s a mash-up for risk-taking that leads to transformational results.

Time is a fascinating influence in Hackathons.  Perhaps an irony we are nostalgic about is that more time equates to better results.  Discard that – we are not looking for perfection, we are looking for bold innovation.  Ask "Why Not?” five times in a row to identify the core of your disruptive idea.

Why Hack?

I have always believed that those who are meant to meet find each other in due time. Hackers find themselves gravitating towards other folks who share a passion or something (or approach) you have been pondering for a while. At Equity by Design we seek data that informs our activism. We are looking to form affinity groups of people who resonate with a finding from our survey and have a yearning to influence different outcomes.

TED Talk by Catherine Bracy: Why Good Hackers make Good Citizens

Flipped Classroom

For the AIA EQxD Hackathon, you will have homework but other than that, all you are required to do is come refreshed and ready for a solid day. In borrowing the modern concept within Higher Education, we will introduce you to key data from our Survey and brief summaries from the content sessions we organized for our Symposium via the Flipped Classroom model. It’s a packet of information for self study, which will serve as the foundation you need to be prepared to work with a team. In this packet you will find a summary of the Goals, Format, Organization for the Hackathon, Survey Data, a graphic depicting “Life of an Architect” - a visual narrative of a sample professional journey, a range of topics ripe for “hacking”, and a helpful set of guidelines for crafting an effective and engaging message to depict your proposal.

Time Will Fly

It’s ok to anticipate a little chaos. Suspend wanting to know what and when and linger longer in why and how with your teammates. These are the ingredients of your first exercise: Diverge and Converge. Leverage the diversity of your group to consider the points of view of your audience. The most transformational hacks will get at the root of a real need. Go for quantity of ideas, then Deliberate and Discard. Adopt the mindset of why your idea matters and get ready to “sell” it. Develop and Clarify. Many great ideas die at the vine because they are not communicated well or succinctly. Be strategic in how you design your presentation.  

There will be a Winner

You will have 5 minutes to make an impression to invited jurors during Happy Hour. In anticipation of this milestone for the day, we are sharing the criteria for evaluation.  Think of this as your pitch to venture capitalists - people who can help you  realize your idea. Please keep these in mind as you read the Flipped Classroom packet, engage in the Hackathon, and present.

User Experience: human-centered insight                                     5 points

Impact: innovation; relevance and impact on profession       5 points

Metrics: plan for action, deployment and evaluation               5 points

Pitch: quality and uniqueness of message/creativity              5 points

Diverse voices are needed to shape the future of our profession. Hope you can join us; we need to hack more!

Don't forget to register for AIA Convention by April 15th to get the advanced convention admission pricing. If you are a student, emerging professional or young architect interested in attending the Hackathon and Happy Hour, submit for the Scholarships donated by our EQxD Hackathon Workshop Sponsors: McCarthy Builders, WRNS, and Autodesk by 4/20.


Next Blog: Meet the Jurors!