The relation between the architectural profession and academia has the potential to be a rich and interactive exchange leading to meaningful advancement of the discipline. This consortium creates a robust knowledge loop in which the professionals identify problems in the course of practice and academic researchers communicate useful results back to practitioners. Research priorities developed by professionals ensure their value to clients, while complementary research priorities collectively developed with academic researchers address broad societal needs, advance building technology and reduce waste at many scales in the building industry. In the midst of this dynamic mix of professional experts and academic researchers, students thrive, guided by both mentors and professors in individual research projects that connect to multi-year research goals. Since the students' roles in these research efforts is counted in their AXP, meaningful work systematically leads to licensure, potentially upon graduation of the advanced post-professional degree, the Masters of Science in Architecture, concentration in Research Practices (MS-RP).
The MS-RP incorporates a new experience that we at Minnesota are calling a “research practice internship". The student is working within a larger consortium of firms and the University that establishes multi-year goals and links faculty advisors with professional mentors to the students. This establishes meaningful internships for students that combine funded research as student assistants supervised by faculty with office-based internships paid by the firms – qualifying for the all-important “Experience Setting A or O" as defined in AXP. By integrating the two experiences for the student, academic research is applied on actual projects and information is gathered in a way that allows for consistent methods and metrics. Interestingly, recent research from EQxD shows that the strongest predictor of success for recent graduates is contact with firm leaders. By providing structured, substantive interaction, MS-RP graduates have excellent support which can greatly advance their progress after graduation.