Dear Alumni and Friends,

I am pleased to have joined the School of Design and Construction this past summer as director.

I have greatly enjoyed getting to know Pullman in the six months that I have been here, and I am excited about the tremendous opportunities for continued growth and success in the School.

In the past three years, our enrollment has increased to more than 800 undergraduates and 55 graduate students. We have more than 30 faculty members and are working to hire five more this year, including in WSU’s new construction engineering major. Meanwhile, our advisory board made up of alumni and design professionals is active and engaged.

As many of you know, the SDC aims to become the premier destination for integrated design and construction education in the nation. Because of our unique position of having all of our design and construction majors within the same school and having our architecture and engineering programs within the same college, we have the chance to provide a truly integrated experience for our students that is unparalleled.

We are committed to providing transformative experiences for our students and to giving them soft skills, technical competence, and responsibility that will adequately prepare them for the workforce. At the same time, we are working to build our school’s program through professional and community exchange, bringing together academics, industry, students, and stakeholders in a way that leads to productive dialogue and action. We are also pursuing critically important and rigorous research that is leading to innovation in the design and construction field (Fig. 1).

SDC model
Figure 1

With these goals in mind, we are developing and building three key initiatives for the School:

  • Rural Communities Design Initiative (RCDI). The RCDI is a wonderful university design and research exchange and partnership that helps rural communities come up with built environment solutions and projects to enhance their communities. At the same time that we’re helping communities solve their challenges, the program provides transformative experiences for our students.
  • The Integrated Design and Construction Laboratory (ID+CL). Our research lab aims to address important industry questions related to the built environment in areas such as construction technology implementation, operation and building performance, and occupancy behavior. We are and will be working with industry partners as well as our colleagues in engineering research centers around the university to identify problems and develop innovative design solutions for the built environment.
  • Built Environment Exchange (beX). As part of our workforce development efforts, the beX will provide a myriad of student and industry engagement opportunities to foster a workforce pipeline and build the SDC donor base. We will grow our internship and co-op efforts, so that every student will have access to internship experiences during their education. We will build summer and funded design studio opportunities that are hosted by firms, and we will be bringing industry participation to many of our capstone studio and third-year projects.

I greatly look forward to working with you to move these initiatives forward and to bringing about continued growth and success for the school. Please feel free to contact me if you’re in Pullman.  I look forward to talking with you soon.

Ryan E. Smith

Director and Professor