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Youngest Licensed Architect in Michigan: Alum Trent Schmitz’s Experience
Trent Schmitz, M. Arch 2021
Architect & Interior Designer, Neumann/Smith Architecture
Meet ’21 M.Arch grad Trent Schmitz! At 23, Trent is the youngest licensed architect in the state of Michigan. How did he do it? He credits his speedy road to licensure directly to LTU’s participation in the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) program.
LTU is one of 23 schools across the country that participate in the IPAL initiative. Developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the initiative shortens students’ time to licensure. Aspiring architects can earn practical experience hours and take their licensure exams before they graduate.
Here’s how it works: after their third year of a 6-year M.Arch program, IPAL participants begin a full-time summer internship at a partner architectural firm. For the next three years, these students complete a series of part-time and full-time internships that align with course requirements and the school calendar. In the spring of their fifth year, these students will have met the requirements for experience hours and can begin the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE) series.
Like many IPAL students, Trent formed the connections that led to a full-time job after graduation. After spending a year at Neumann/Smith Architecture in Southfield, Michigan, he enjoyed the firm so much that he negotiated a change. Instead of moving on to a new internship, Trent opted to spend his remaining time in the IPAL program at the same firm. Today, he’s employed as a full-time designer for Neumann/Smith, a commercial firm developing new construction office and retail space.
The best thing about LTU’s M.Arch program is its industry connections, according to Trent. Through the IPAL program and the M.Arch curriculum, he and his fellow students had the opportunity to meet and work with practicing architects at several different firms. The experience he gained and the connections he made were invaluable. “No matter what firm you work at, one of the professors knows someone there or someone there knows one of the professors. You’re really getting a leg into the industry,” he said. He also found that the fast-paced coursework was excellent preparation for a fast-paced industry.
What’s next for Trent? While he may be the youngest architect in Michigan, his immediate focus is still on gaining practical experience in his full-time designer role. Today, Trent still works as a designer at Southfield-based Neumann Smith Architecture focuses on a variety of projects, ranging from Commercial Office, High end Retail, Multifamily, and High end Residential design.