Category: News

Having the tools necessary for completing daily academic tasks are essential for a successful school year.

Back to School: Tips for Aspiring A/E/C Professionals

It’s that time of year where the leaves are falling, college campuses are buzzing (mostly online), and students are preparing for their first exams of the year. Whether you’re in the classroom, learning virtually, or a recent graduate preparing for a designation exam, it is imperative to establish habits  that allow for success at all stages of the education experience and ultimately a career in the A/E/C industry.

Heading Back to Class – What Now?

As most college campuses shift to online learning in the wake of the global pandemic, many students who are used to being in the classroom are now facing a learning curve with virtual learning. Having the tools necessary for completing daily academic tasks are essential for a successful school year. Tools in your academic arsenal should include:

Having the tools necessary for completing daily academic tasks are essential for a successful school year.
Having the tools necessary for completing daily academic tasks are essential for a successful school year and studying for exams.
  • Comfortable workspace
  • Calculator
  • Highlighters and pens
  • Reliable computer and internet connection
  • Day planner or calendar
  • A well-stocked bookmarks bar on your search engine with relevant sources for studying

Effective Communication is Key

FWA employees who are recent college graduates and FWA interns still in school agree that communication is one of the most important components of success in both the academic and professional arenas. Learning to communicate effectively with professors, peers, and colleagues, as well as how to analyze an audience for presentations and group projects helps to build a strong foundation for project management and future project interviews.

The emergence of COVID-19 and subsequent lack of in-person communication opportunities have caused many to adjust their communication styles and very quickly embrace new technology. This is true for not only design professionals collaborating on projects, but also for college professors and students having to improve time management skills with the increased need for self-imposed deadlines. Issues with technology are unavoidable, therefore communicating effectively with those who can help, whether it is fellow students, professors, or colleagues, eases the transition to the virtual world.

What about Test Taking?

Test taking within the A/E/C industry requires practice, focus, and a solid command of the subject matter that will be presented on the exam. Preparing for college exams, Fundamentals of Engineering (FE), Principals of Engineering (PE), Architect Registration Examination (ARE), Fundamentals of Surveying (FS), Principles and Practices of Surveying (PS), and the four-part Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE) should not be aimless and without proper guidance and discipline. Learning effective time management, establishing a routine that works for your schedule, and becoming familiar with the study materials are all methods used by current and aspiring FWA professionals.

Routine, Routine, Routine

This may seem like a given, but establishing a realistic routine can facilitate ultimate exam success. FWA professionals recommend planning out a study schedule in advance, allotting for review sessions, and getting into a routine based on the time of day that you tend to work the most effectively. By falling into this schedule, studying will not seem like an extra chore, rather an essential part of the day.

Familiarity with Materials

It’s rare to walk past the desk of an A/E/C professional and not see them working out numbers on a calculator. Becoming familiar with and routinely practicing with the necessary materials that will be used during the exam is imperative. Becoming efficient using the reference manuals on the computer, using shortcuts such as CTRL-F to search, and using solve functions on the calculator to save time with statistics and calculus questions will allow for effective time management during the actual test. When in doubt, YouTube it out! Utilizing online resources and observing how others work out equations can help devise a system that works best for you and your learning style.

Work Hard, Play Hard, Avoid Burnout

Learning to effectively work and study within the confines of COVID-19 can be challenging but implementing the aforementioned tips can help, as can setting and celebrating short-term goals along the way. It is important to work and study hard but equally as important to take breaks along the way that allow for relaxation and time to reflect on the progress that has been made.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams

Blog Contributors: Veronika Vall, EIT | FWA Project Engineer; Seth Orsini, EIT | FWA Project Engineer; Scott Forsythe | FWA Project Engineer; Allison Rogers | FWA Architectural Intern

COVID19 Commitment

FWA’s Commitment to Service and Safety During COVID19

COVID19 CommitmentDespite the challenges presented by COVID19, all of us at Frederick Ward Associates are working together to provide continuous service, while also taking precaution to keep our employees, families, clients, and communities safe.

We are committed to serving our clients and business partners and are successfully working within the constraints of the social distancing requirements. You can trust that we remain available for you and your design needs!

We respect the commitment of all of those who are providing for our communities during these difficult times and thank you; especially those working in the healthcare, financial institution, grocery, education, and construction industries, as well as all other industries that are essential to our daily lives.

Stay well. We will get through this together!

Rock Spring 5

Working Through Maryland’s Land Development Process

FW Project Manager Tom Miner, PE discusses the Maryland Land Development process in the newest issue of Maryland Construction Network newsletter.
FW Project Manager Tom Miner, PE discusses the Maryland Land Development process in the newest issue of Maryland Construction Network newsletter.

By: Tom Miner, PE, Project Manager

This article is featured in the most recent edition of the Maryland Construction Network newsletter.

While the nickname the “Free State” arose in Maryland due to its rich tradition of political freedom and religious tolerance, this certainly does not apply to land development in Maryland. Complex rules and regulations establish a daunting and arduous process that must be adhered to for all land development projects. How the process is managed will make a substantial impact on a project’s timeline, budget, and actual implementation. By being proactive and cognizant of common pitfalls, we can plan and facilitate the process, increasing the likelihood of success.

Engage early and with the right people. Prior to purchasing or moving ahead with plans on an existing parcel, it is wise to gain a strong understanding of the process that will be involved; given the particulars of the area, zoning and regulatory requirements, and how desired project goals might be impacted. Tuning in with local experts is a recommended method of navigating this investigative stage. Leaning on the experience of your broker, a local engineering/planning firm, and local county and/or municipal governmental departments can help provide a roadmap of the local process, uncover potential limitations of the proposed property, and anticipate the project’s impact on the local community.

Knowledge is power. Having awareness of the areas where unforeseeable setbacks commonly occur throughout the land development process and learning how to avoid or anticipate can help mitigate loss of valuable financial and time resources. Taking the time to do homework and tapping the expertise of local professionals can identify possible setbacks prior to enacting a LOI (Letter of Intent). Gaining as much prior knowledge about the below components can help assess a project’s overall potential and help paint a realistic timeline and financial picture. It is imperative to have a strong understanding of the property, its surrounding area, and local community prior to project initiation.

  • Become familiar with the zoning ordinances
    – Is the property within its zoning rights or does it need a special exception or variance?
    – What is the stance on waivers or variances per the county or municipality?
    – What kind of buffering or building offsets are required?
  • Utilities and access
    – Are there existing utilities?
    – APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is there sufficient capacity if there are  utilities?
    – Is there existing road access and what type of improvements will be required to bring the access to current standards?
    – What entity owns the road SHA, County, Town, etc.?
    – What traffic impact will be felt as a result of the projected development?
  • Know the local culture and demographics and restrictions or perceived neighboring restrictions. While legal or zoning regulations may not directly impact the project, community backlash can potentially delay a project and/or jeopardize the budget as a result of legal fees. Don’t be tone deaf to neighboring owners!
    – Take time to learn your neighboring audience. What developments will be well received? What might present resistance? Do neighboring owners have the means to legally fight the project and if so, what implications might that have on the project?
    – Be mindful of sensitive and unspoken restrictions such as, Section 8 housing and long-standing rural and/or wooded areas, even if located within the development envelope.
  • Understand the environmental impact
    – Will reforestation be required?
    – What impact might there be to wetlands?
    – Is the property in a floodplain?
    – Are there impacts that will require special MDE permits?

All these items above can impact the amount of “developable land” and/or the project cost.

Have a realistic and well-defined proforma and use it as a tool in the process. Having a sound financial base and clearly defined goals is a best practice for any business venture. Outlining such and sharing with trusted advisors (broker, design team, attorneys, etc.) helps fine-tune realistic expectations. After engaging with a design team familiar with the proposed project area, reviewing design and construction assumptions impacting the project proforma with the team ensures all members are on the same page as the design progresses. Collaborating with the design team helps to determine realistic expectations, adjust the proforma and/or project goals accordingly, and helps better define overall project understanding. Owners should price projects such that they factor in costs noted by the design team and other trusted advisors to address potential impacts related to environmental issues, legal complexities, community aversion, etc.

Understand and respect the timeline. Development projects take time and require patience. Depending on the jurisdiction, it can take anywhere from nine months to a year, at minimum, to go from the initial design stage to having approved permits in-hand. When developing the proforma, a realistic consideration of the project timeline should be factored in accordingly. Time should also be allotted for a planning charrette with professionals to help define project milestones and create a detailed roadmap of the project’s overall goals and expenditures.

Unexpected delays in the timeline can still occur through bureaucratic interpretations and perceived political impact. It is prudent to anticipate these roadblocks, as they are an inevitable part of the process. Expect the unforeseen but don’t be discouraged by it! With the guidance of knowledgeable local engineering/planning expertise, a better understanding of problem areas in the process can be gained to help assess the success of a potential project.

Scouts BSA Event at FWA

FWA Hosts Scouts BSA Troop 1920 for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

February 20th was recognized by the National Society of Professional Engineers as Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, in which schools and individuals were encouraged to engage and introduce girls to engineering and the world of STEM. At FWA, we took this opportunity to share our knowledge of engineering with local Scouts BSA Troop 1920, Harford County’s first all-female BSA troop.

After weeks of preparation by members of our engineering team, FWA opened its doors to the troop on the evening of the 20th and FWA engineers, Veronika Vall and Zashary Orengo, led a presentation focusing on “Girl Day”. The content of the presentation aligned with the requirements needed for the girls to obtain their engineering merit badge.

The troop was then divided into groups, each led by a FWA engineer. The groups designed micro bio-retention facilities by following a detail created by our engineers. The completed facilities went into a scale model depicting a developed site. In this case, the site consisted of a parking lot, commercial office building, landscaping, and three micro bio-retention facilities. The girls were then able to use water to create a 1, 10, and 100-year storm, each of which showed the results of the micro-bio’s filtering capability and ability to clean the water, post-runoff, from the site.

To learn more about inspiring today’s youth to discover engineering, please visit   http://www.discovere.org/.

FWA Scouts Event FWA Scouts Event 2 FWA Scouts Event 3
ABC Groundbreaking

FWA Celebrates Groundbreaking of ABC Baltimore’s Construction Education Academy

FWA is leading the design for the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Baltimore’s (ABC) new Construction Education Academy. As part of Cross Street Partner’s revitalization efforts and neighborhood development in East Baltimore, ABC will be occupying 28,000 SF of space in the old Hoen Lithograph complex. FWA architects designed the tenant fit-out for ABC’s new space, which will contain training labs for various construction trades, classrooms, conference rooms, hoteling stations for students, a gathering area for student interaction, a coffee shop, and ABC’s new corporate offices.

ABC hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on January 13, where FWA’s Vice President and Director of Architecture, Ted Jasinski, AIA, NCARB participated in the celebration. He was joined by fellow FWA project team members, Senior Project Architect Ellen Jenkins who provided interior design support, and Staff Architect Nate Hilker who helped with the architectural design and provided building renderings. The design is mindful of the historical aspects of the building, which are incorporated throughout.

The Construction Education Academy will act as an education hub for apprenticeship training that will provide training and career opportunities for Marylanders while creating a pipeline to help curb the construction industry’s labor shortages.

ABC of Greater Baltimore is the largest organization in Maryland to represent the commercial construction industry. With 650 members, the organization specializes in construction training, apprenticeships, continuing education, and professional development for those currently and seeking to join the construction industry. ABC’s offices will be relocating from to the new space in East Baltimore.

ABC Baltimore Construction Education Academy Groundbreaking FWA Architects ABC Baltimore's Construction and Design Team