This week, Ranken launched a new architectural microenterprise in partnership with JEMA Architects. JEMA was the architect for Ranken’s new Rodenheiser extension and rain garden, as well as the new Taylor Automotive Center at Ranken Wentzville.

Vince Holtmann, director of microenterprises at Ranken, recalls, “The idea was born Sept. 17, at the ribbon cutting for the new Rodenheiser extension. Ranken Microenterprises Specialist Kathy Fern approached John Mueller of JEMA about starting an architectural microenterprise partnership. John Mueller was very interested and excited about pursuing this opportunity – he seemed very committed to the educational aspect of this industry partnership.”

Ranken Architectural Technology Instructor David Graf is the faculty lead for the microenterprise, and will supervise the work done in the new, dedicated office located on Ranken’s campus. The project will launch with a 6-week project with one student working 15-20 hours per week. After the successful completion of JEMA’s first project, “We expect to continue with physical modeling for JEMA and possibly broaden to architectural renderings and more,” Holtmann said.

Mike Anderson, a fourth-year student in the Architectural Technology program, is the first student hired to participate in the project. He will be responsible for building physical models of JEMA’s designs based on computer-aided drafting (CAD) models provided by the firm. Mike was hired based on his model-building skills and experience. In his time at Ranken, he has already distinguished himself through his innovation and creativity. Anderson left a job drafting pools for a swimming-pool company in order to take this position, which he says is more closely aligned with his interests and career goals.

“I’m excited to be the first student hired for this microenterprise, and to help it grow and expand.” Anderson said. “I’m happy to help it get off the ground. It’s like a start-up, and that’s exciting. It’s an honor to be part of a team that’s working on projects of this scale.”

Missy Borchardt, the department chair of Ranken’s Architectural TechnologyBuilding Systems Engineering Technology, and Carpentry and Building Technology programs, is enthusiastic about the future of the program and its value to the College. She hopes to see the microenterprise expand over time to employ more students, and to include computer rendering using Revit, 3DS Max, and AutoCAD software.

In addition to providing paid employment to students, Borchardt said, “It keeps faculty plugged in to the industry.” All of Ranken’s Architectural Technology program faculty have extensive professional experience, and this collaboration will help keep them up-to-date with new developments in the industry, which benefits students in the program, as well. “Partnering with JEMA is a great example of what Ranken does well, working with industry to enhance our programs and give our students real-world experience,” Borchardt said.