Consortium for Research Practices

The relationship between the architectural profession and academia has the potential to be a rich and interactive exchange of information. The Consortium for Research Practices is a point of intersection for industry professionals and students in the Research Practices track of the Master of Science in Architecture program (MS-RP).

Overview

The Consortium for Research Practices creates student-led, knowledge partnerships between the profession and academy to identify, research, and address emerging built environment challenges and imagine new practice futures through robust design research.

In a supportive cohort- and mentorship-based environment, students gain design research expertise and contribute new knowledge in various practice and societal challenge areas (resilient future of practice, just and equitable communities, sustainable ecosystems, advancing health and welfare) while accelerating towards licensure and leadership.

Equity of access to resources and opportunities is a fundamental value for the consortium practices and academies engaged in the research, design, and construction of built environments. In particular, we commit to welcoming underrepresented minorities, who historically face barriers to participation, licensure, and leadership, into the program. All students in the MS-RP program receive financial support.

Program Summary

The cohort-based MS-RP research curriculum teaches emergent, visual, applied, and fundamental design research tools and methods. The practice curriculum provides EDI competency skills and accelerates students towards licensure, providing internship hours, preparation, study materials, and payment for licensure exams.

The research-practice internships are a key component of the program. MS-RP students lead research projects as paid research-practice interns in consortium member firms, where they are mentored by practice leaders and advised by faculty experts at the University. Research-practice internship placements are carefully structured to support student research interests and licensure needs while addressing priorities and challenges identified by the consortium.

Some of the issues currently being addressed by the students in the program and the consortium include AI in computational design practice, prevention of material waste through shared BIM, social dimensions of Circular Economies in AEC, pandemic equity x design tool, embodied energy and operational energy intersections in early design, health impacts of plastics in AEC, mass timber adoption by the hospitality industry, clean water & sustainable ecosystems, carbon zero cities, incremental housing for the shelterless, and urban space waste as resource.

Consortium Members

Interested in becoming a member? Contact Malini Srivastava at malini@umn.edu and review our expression of interest form.

Logos of firms and companies that are part of MSRP
Key Benefits

Consortium members
Participating in this unique partnership will not only increase your research capacity as a firm but will also provide your clients with targeted, performance-based results. As a consortium member, you will benefit from our faculty expertise and research as well as highly qualified students selected to match your needs. University research materials will also be available on a case-by-case basis, and you will have exclusive access to the consortium database and research results. Along with citations in important publications, you will earn six hours per year of Continuing Education/AIA Learning Units.

MS-RP students 
As a graduate student in our program, you will receive the following benefits from working alongside our consortium members:

  • 225 hrs* of AXP in experience setting A or O during academic year (Practice Internship)
  • 150 hrs** of AXP in experience setting S per academic year (Research Internship)
  • 600 hrs* of AXP in experience setting A or O per summer
  • 930 hrs** of AXP in experience setting S for advanced degree
  • Stipend and salary similar to Research Assistant position stipend and tuition reduction
  • Fellowship opportunities exclusive to MSRP, including tuition, ARE® fees, etc.
  • ARE instruction customized for MS-RP, sections taken in structured cohort

*Students' individual hours may vary
**Not applicable for the states that have adopted the 3,740-hour requirement/revised AXP terms

FAQs for Firms

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Can we participate if we don’t have licensed architects on staff?

Yes, if you do not have licensed architects, your firm will need to collaborate with another firm and/or one of our licensed faculty members.

What if our firm suffers an unexpected economic downturn and can’t fulfill our commitment to hire students?

It is impossible for any of us to predict what will happen in the future. We ask for a good faith effort to fulfill your commitment and good communication so we can explore options with as much advance planning as possible. See the agreement for terms of withdrawal from the consortium.

Can we have interns working on billable projects?

Our interns operate the same way as typical summer interns, so yes they certainly can work on billable projects. The practice internship is allowed to be billable, but we ask that the first priority be given to research goals and the second priority to the student’s AXP plan. The research internship component, supervised by faculty, cannot be billable. Final project research work cannot be billable.

Consortium-wide goals present the potential for leveraging research over many firms and several years, but what about our firm’s specific research needs?

We expect that each consortium member will participate in at least one semester pursuing a consortium-wide goal and at least one semester pursuing a firm-specific goal over the course of the three-year initial membership period. During the three-year period, there will be regular assessments by the program director to determine the appropriate balance of shared vs. specific goals.

How do we pay for the consortium fee and internship?

This is a business decision for your firm. Common strategies we have seen from other models is payment for costs from marketing or research budgets. The most promising option we have seen is to explain the investment in terms of effort saved on projects or future projects. In this case, some of the costs may be assigned to project overhead.

In cases of non-profits or public entities, which are prevented by their structure to pay for these costs, we will partner with you to apply to foundations, many of which will only give to these entities. Our initial priorities are to approach foundations with interest in low-cost housing, sustainable design, and community-based design.

Can we participate in the consortium without hiring students? Alternatively, can we hire more than one student at a time?

We believe the value is inherently tied to employing students in the summer and research practices internships, so during the course of a three-year membership, we expect at least three summer internship slots and three semesters of practice internships. Practice internships may be distributed at the discretion of the consortium member but are subject to student and faculty availability.

Some firms may wish for multiple interns to be employed concurrently and/or to have interns work continuously throughout the calendar year. We have some limitations in this capacity, but you can generally expect that we will fulfill demand for interns. The standard consortium annual fee covers up to two interns per academic year. Additional interns may be possible with an additional fee and pending availability.

How do we get a student and faculty member that match our needs?

The matching process is very important to successful outcomes. We enlist faculty expertise but cannot guarantee their availability will match firm needs. Depending on the project, the timing of the work may need to be accelerated or delayed to accommodate faculty availability. The firm has the right to reject a student candidate for any reason, and every effort will be made to make a positive match.

What if halfway through the internship, things aren’t working well? Or something changes in the project or personnel?

We make every effort to plan in advance and to effectively match students, faculty, and firms to ensure success. If something goes wrong, regardless of fault or not, program coordinators will pursue mediation efforts.

FAQs for Students

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If I am a student in the Master of Science in Architecture, concentration in Research Practices (MSRP), am I guaranteed a summer internship?

Unique to the MSRP program are several components dependent on economic conditions. We have every expectation that while you are enrolled in the program, a summer internship as well as fall and spring research practice internships will include paid practice internships. On the rare occasion when a paid position is not possible, alternatives for the research practice internships will ensure that you can continue to make progress towards completing your degree.

The typical admissions cycle is complete by April 15, allowing time for optional summer internship before fall coursework begins.

What sets the research practice internship apart from typical internships or research/teaching assistantships?

The research practice internship is a unique combination of a typical firm internship and a University research assistant position. The total financial payment to the student ($7,300/semester) is the same as a research or teaching assistant position at the U. In the research practice internship, your funding source is split between a tuition reduction paid by the school ($4,000) and salary paid by the firm ($3,300 or more depending on your experience level). There are slight differences in the University Health Insurance terms (see student agreement). The AXP hours earned in a research practice internship are the same as the combined total of hours earned in practice (15 hours x 15 week/semester = 225 hrs/semester in AXP experience-setting A) and earned in an assistant position during the University payroll time period (10 hours x 19.5 weeks/semester = 195 hrs/semester in AXP experience-setting O).

The core advantages of a research practice internship over a typical internship and/or assistant position is the synergy between the two. Also the firms commit to helping meet your AXP plan goals as best they can within the research goals of the project.

Why should I sign over my intellectual property (IP) rights to the University? Does this mean I can’t claim the work?

Regardless of IP ownership, the work will be cited as your authorship, with appropriate citation to the Faculty Advisor and Practice Mentor who may have contributed greatly to defining the research questions. You can use the work in your resumé and in your portfolio, you can also write articles on the research but must inform your faculty advisor.

IP for work done under the firm employment (summer internship, practice internship) resides with the firm. IP for work done in the academic setting (research internship, Plan C final projects) would normally be shared between the U and student.

When we were developing the consortium, internship and the MSRP program, we compared with models in the building industry or at the U. Since the expected IP in our case has little or no likelihood of commercial value or “capitalization” leading to patents, it greatly simplified the consortium arrangements to have a single point of IP ownership (the University of Minnesota) for work produced in the academic setting.