Human Factors College of Design



Amy ennen

Project: Project Delivery Toward the Future, Fall 2013
Faculty Advisers: Renee Cheng and Andrea Johnson
Firms: Mortenson Construction, DLR Group

"I decided to participate in a consortium research project because of the research topic, and the academic leadership involved.  The idea of understanding a system, in depth, also appealed to me.

The program did impact me as a student.  It gave me the opportunity to work with academic and industry thought leaders; it allowed me to dive deeply into an area of practice I would have otherwise only touched on in my coursework; it allowed me to develop relationships and build my network external to my cohort; it led me to develop more advanced data visualization techniques; it provided me the opportunity to contribute to a body of work that is nascent in comparison to other industry topics; it taught me how to devise a research framework and select a methodology; it also taught me how cull metrics from a literature review and build a survey around those metrics.

The program also impacted and continues to impact my career.  I was offered a salaried position within the firm; I am on a forum that helped developed a formal place for research within the firm – to the extent of hiring a research and development leader; I have been tapped to help visualize big data, which makes the data more approachable for clients; I have been asked to prepare market research analyses in emerging markets which is different from the consortium research, but has happened as a result of me being now known, within the firm, as a researcher.

Clients, end users and producers of architecture have begun to understand how vital research is to improving our world.  The improvements range from energy use reductions to innovation in materials to decreasing healthcare costs.  The idea is that sound research, when applied, can make a tremendous impact.  The MSRP gives aspiring architects the opportunity to conduct and apply research, in practice, with the support and resources of academia.  This provides them with the skills and experience necessary to conduct and apply research confidently in their careers as they forge ahead.  The MSRP also proves that the connection between academia and practice, with research as the catalyst, should remain in place.  It is a super productive exchange."


Philip Bussey

Project: Tuned Surfaces: Incorporating Digital Simulation and Physical Prototyping in the Design of Acoustically Performative Side Wall Panels, Fall 2013
Faculty Advisers: Marc Swackhamer
Firms: HGA

"The MSRP gave me the opportunity to take research on architectural acoustic surfaces that I was working on with a professor and apply it to a firm that had a number of ongoing performing arts projects. What was most appealing to me was the opportunity to “scale-up” the research from small installation and fabrication projects to large institutional projects within a large architecture practice.

The attention that the VarVac project got after graduation was a nice affirmation that this sort of work is important to the profession. That coupled with working on similar concepts in practice broadened my understanding of the role that an architect can have within a firm as well as within the allied disciplines. Between the research I was doing with Marc and HGA, there were elements of software development, fabrication, architectural design, and firm management. These topics continue to be of interest to me and influence the professional opportunities that I’ve chosen to pursue.

There are a lot of challenges to doing research in the context of an architectural practice with project deadlines often taking precedence over research. While the firm I work at now doesn’t have a dedicated research group, I find that I use the skills developed during my MSRP partnership on a daily basis. I’m not writing detailed research reports anymore, but I’m developing new processes and tools to streamline the transfer of information from early design models directly into our documentation platform. Thus improving design concept fidelity and reducing the typical time spent in the process. Knowledge sharing and collaboration with the larger open source community has been a huge part of the success of this effort and will continue to shape the development of it.


Christopher Wingate

Project: Energy Modeling Methodology, 2012
Faculty Advisers: Blaine Brownell
Consortium Firms: Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, LTD (MS&R)

"I decided to pursue the MSRP program because it presented an incredible opportunity to gain work experience in the region’s top architectural firms while developing research that pushed the profession forward.  My research topic, developing an energy modeling methodology, was a direct match for my interests in sustainable design, and I was paired with a firm, MSR, that I hoped to work at after graduation.  The MSRP program helped launch the trajectory of my career and I was hired by MSR after the MSRP program as a designer and Research Coordinator.

The MSRP program helped launch the trajectory of my career.  As a student participant, I was paired with MSR to develop an energy modeling methodology.  The opportunity was a perfect mirror of my interests at the time – I was passionate about sustainable design and wanted to work for MSR after graduation because of their expertise in adaptive reuse projects.  The MSRP program got me in the door at MSR, but I quickly realized that the program was so much more than just an internship opportunity.  Because I was developing new knowledge that was important for the firm, I worked directly with firm leadership to shape the trajectory of my research from my first day in the office.

A unique aspect of the MSRP program is that it helps students develop research skills while also teaching them how to operate in a professional working environment.  As I was learning cutting edge energy analysis software, I was also learning how to preparing for, lead, and document weekly meetings with my in-office research steering committee.  I would present updates on the tools and processes I was developing and they would provide valuable feedback on how it could fit within the constraints of practice including schedules, budgets, and traditional ways of working.  I was exposed to the realities of architectural practice at the same time that I was trying to push its boundaries.  This helped push my research from a purely academic pursuit to the development of research that could be applied directly in the profession.

The development of applied research in the field of sustainable design is a pursuit I am still following to this day.  I was hired by MSR after completion of the MSRP research project as a designer and Research Coordinator.  I now have the pleasure of working with current MSRP students from the other side of the table and am responsible for helping shape the trajectory and implementation of our research efforts.  The MSRP program has also opened other doors within the profession including continued research efforts with the U of M and presentation opportunities at major conferences.  I am extremely grateful for the positive impact the MSRP program has had on my career and for the opportunity to remain involved with the valuable program as it develops current students into the future leaders of our profession."


Will Adams

Project: VR and Construction: Investigating the Potential of Immersive Virtual Reality Technologies in the Operations of Mortenson Construction
Faculty Advisors: Andrea Johnson, Lee Anderson, Renee Cheng
Consortium Firm: Mortenson Construction
Firm Advisors: Ricardo Kahn, Taylor Cupp

"I chose to participate in the MSRP program at the University of Minnesota because I saw it as an opportunity to pursue research in a field I’m very interested in - Immersive virtual reality - while engaging with a respected construction firm, Mortenson Construction. That I’d be able to accrue IDP hours at the same time was an added bonus. I also saw it as a way to differentiate myself from other M.Arch students and develop new research skills.

I didn’t anticipate how much impact the MSRP would have on my career when I decided to do it, but I’m glad I chose to. The research I did while engaged with the program kindled an interest and expertise in virtual reality which I’m now pursuing professionally. It’s very exciting to be part of the budding VR field, with so much new technology being released, new ways to think about virtual environments being opened up, and a lifetime’s worth of problems left to be solved.

While I’m not currently working for an architectural firm, I believe the MSRP provides a valuable professional tool to students hoping to become architects, or who would like to apply their architectural skills to another profession. Either way, it’s a great way to build your resume with unique, deep-dive professional experience in a focused area, an opportunity many young architects won’t have."


Kaylyn Kirby

Project:Material Sustainability - Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Building Materials, Spring 2014
Faculty Advisers: Renee Cheng and Andrea Johnson
Firms: MSR
Firm Advisers: Tom Meyer, Chris Wingate, Jack Poling, Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, Simona Fischer, Rhys MacPherson

"I chose to pursue the MSRP program because it enabled me to engage with professionals, faculty, and fellow students through a unique research setting. I was able to drive the direction of the research to my interests, while incorporating the interests of the firm to produce a thought provoking body of work.

The MSRP program provided me the opportunity to be more than simply an intern in the office; I was the champion of the research endeavor and was placed on a level playing field with other colleagues. This experience gave me confidence both as a student and in my career to be able to take charge of a task or idea and move it forward.

While not currently undertaking the same types of research at this point in my career – research, analysis, and critical thinking are part of my daily life. I have proven able to tackle difficult analytical tasks and have thus been given opportunities not usually afforded to someone so early in their career. Overall, the skills, mindset, and confidence that I built while in the MSRP program have positively affected my career."


Jeremy Bernardy

Project:Comparison of Two Clinic Planning Models: An Analysis of On-Stage/Off-Stage and Neighborhood Designs, Fall 2015
Faculty Advisers: Kathleen Harder, PhD, Center for Design in Health Director
Consortium Firms: AECOM
Firm Advisers: Rich Lay, Architectural Director, Associate Principal Jim Lewison, Interior Design Director, Associate Principal, Christine Hester Devens, Interior Project Designer, Associate Principal, Greg Mare, Healthcare Practice Leader – Americas, Kim Williamson, Associate Principal, Interior Design Director

"I decided to be a part of the MSRP program for the opportunities that it afforded to continue the high intellectual energy found in the academic setting while advancing my career in professional practice. I saw this as an opportunity to become a leader in a prominent architecture firm, developing a skill set that I could only hope to obtain 5-10 years into my career. As a student this program has progressed my understanding of research and how valuable it is for the designed world. I feel fortunate to have gained this experience as it is not an opportunity that most new graduates receive in their first job. In the academic setting the trial and error process is highly encouraged and as students we learn from these risks and rewards. In practice, however, this process very much exists but is typically reserved for the more experienced team members. The MSRP program bridges the gap between practice and research in architecture by providing a setting that matches students with real architects and design issues. The work and experience you receive then becomes a practical complement to that of academics by challenging the student to adapt what they have learned during a university education and their careers to seek out answers that advance the comprehension of present problems. Research plays the role of understanding how systems and processes work. This knowledge can then be applied to architecture by devising solutions that improve the health, safety, welfare, and costs for the future occupants of our buildings."


matthew Tierney

Project:Site Epidemiology: Tools for Understanding Rural Health Care Challenges at their Root, Fall 2013
Faculty Advisers: Jim Lutz, John Comazzi, Renee Cheng
Consortium Firms: Perkins + Will

“I enrolled in the M.S.-R.P. program for many reasons. The prospect of internship opportunities with top-level firms, the prospect of licensure upon graduation, and involvement in cutting-edge architectural research were very appealing to someone who already had an M.Arch. This program, with its collective resources, has helped me immensely in reaching my goals of licensure and solidifying my areas of interest within the broad field of design.”


Jenna Johansson

Project: Virtual Reality Report, 2012
Faculty Advisers: Renee Cheng
Firms: HGA Architects and Engineers and Perkins+Will

"I participated in the pilot program for the MSRP, firstly because trying new things and testing new ideas is exciting for me - being a part of the evolution of education was a prospect I didn’t want to miss. I also knew this would be a great way to research relevant topics in the industry while getting a good start as an intern at a very reputable firm in the city, not only for myself, but for future students who would come through the program if the pilot was a success. The program challenged me as a student to ask questions, something that I continue to do everyday in my work as well as about my firm's internal practice and about the field as a whole. The MSRP, prepares aspiring architects for research in practice by allowing and facilitating work, studio, and research to happen concurrently. Learning to balance multiple things at a time is a critical skill to have because it is what we face as professionals every day. Offering this opportunity as a track in the educational system allows students to begin practicing the skills required to be successful at making the balance work. While most projects require some quantity of research, many conditions cut short the available time or resources to conduct the research - this program teaches the skills to research effectively making research a second nature part of one’s process in design, in turn making them a valuable asset to any firm."


Jessica Horstkotte

Project: Public Interest Design in Practice

“Through the M.S.-R.P. program I have been able to contribute to the conversation shaping the future of the profession. My project investigates how practitioners pursue social priorities while being accountable for sustaining healthy businesses. This inquiry is aligned with my personal interests and is knowledge I hope to continue to build on as I mature in the profession. My exposure to research, academics, and other professionals engaging in similar questions has already expanded my network and will be a valuable asset moving forward.”






Consortium for Research Practices
Rapson Hall - Room 145
89 Church Street
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Main Reception Desk: 612-624-7866
fax: 612-624-5743