“Widening the Path” to Becoming an Architect

By Randy A. Steiner, AIA
Professor Emerita Montgomery College

Jeff Selingo, Washington Post columnist of GRADE POINT wrote on July 30, 2018: “More than one-third of college students today transfer at least once before earning a bachelor’s degree. Many come from community colleges, where some 40 percent of all undergraduates begin their journey in higher education.

But there’s a problem: While 80 percent of community college students say they intend to transfer to a four-year school, only 14 percent in recent years earned a bachelor’s degree within six years of starting at a two-year college.”

What’s the slip-up here? As architects, we learned all about “problem solving” in school and, after teaching at Montgomery College Architecture for ten years, I could see there are barriers within the pathway between the two academic institutes for those seeking an architecture education. I was the determined optimist who jumped in to move these blockades aside.

Thus, the creation of the Coalition of Community College Architecture Programs Inc. or CCCAP. [Yes, that’s a mouthful.]

The Coalition of Community College Architecture Programs or “CCCAP” is an alliance of the 120+ community college architecture programs in the US which offer Associate Degrees. I created the CCCAP in 2012 and it became a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit association in 2014. This confederation of faculty members, deans, chairpersons, students, architects, related professionals and industry leaders was established as a forum on which:

  • transfer/articulation agreements could be expanded,
  • members could share concerns, research, and
  • opportunities for the diverse population of community college architecture programs could be increased.


All community college architecture programs or “CCAPs” whose information has been collected through an annual nationwide survey are included in the CCCAP data bank. Dues-paying members of the CCCAP have access to the data bank, CCCAP directory, curriculum and assignment sharing, annual conferences and student design competitions.

The CCCAP offers aspiring architects an alternate path to acquiring an architectural education and becoming an architect. Activities include an annual conference, a student design competition program, research grants, future faculty/college awards programs, and liaison with professional organizations. Check out our website at to learn more.

Here in Maryland a big change in the relationship between University of Maryland School of Architecture (SOA) and Montgomery College happened recently thanks to the support of Academic Dean Brian Kelley, AIA and former SOA Dean David Cronrath, AIA. A quasi-partnership was created that “widened the pathway” for Montgomery College Architecture graduates to be accepted to UMD SOA as juniors!

What do Sara ElFallah and Mafe Farieta Garces have in common? Both are recent recipients of the University of Maryland Presidential Scholarship. Sara (seen in the accompanying photo) graduated from the School of Architecture in 2017. Mafe will graduate in 2020. Both are graduates of Montgomery College Architecture Program.

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