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Three time winner – AIA Award for Excellence in Education

The American Institute of Architect’s CES Award for Excellence in Education has been a coveted industry award for many years. It’s my honor to have led the teams who won the award three times, first at CertainTeed Corporation in 1998 and 2000, and then at Whirlpool Corporation in 2009.  Here are a few links to the award, the online curriculum we developed at Whirlpool and a brief history.

2009 AIA Award for Excellence in Education press release

Whirlpool Continuing Education Courses at AECDaily.com

I was Director of Building Solutions Marketing at CertainTeed Corporation when I first read about the pending AIA Continuing Education requirements for architects. To their credit, the AIA built their CES (Continuing Education System) under the leadership of Thom Lowther, Ed.S.  Thom’s diligence resulted in a majority of U.S. states adopting AIA’s new CES as the standard for their State Architectural Boards of Examiners. This was a sea-change for the architectural profession and an opportunity for building product manufacturers (BPM’s) who make products recommended and specified by architects. Building product knowledge is a necessity for architects and why BPM’s will always offer lunch-and-learn presentations in firms. Progressive BPM’s quickly upgraded their programs and re-trained their reps to qualify for AIA’s new high standard.

I quickly ramped up on AIA CES with the help of  Thom and Kay Kane at AIA headquarters.  At CertainTeed, we developed one-hour Learning Units (LU’s) to qualify for AIA’s requirements. It was still ‘pre-Internet history’ in architecture firms so we initially printed and mailed correspondence courses with an answer sheet. After taking a course, architects mailed or faxed back their answer sheets to CertainTeed for grading and reporting to AIA. It sounds antique but that was only fifteen years ago.

AIA developed a national award program, The AIA CES Award for Excellence in Education, to spur the growth of CES Providers and quality of education programs. Several award categories were established including ‘external providers’ for companies like CertainTeed. The award criteria is based on the Malcolm Baldrige Awards so it’s a lot of work over multiple years to even qualify.  I decided to enter our CertainTeed paper curricula of only six courses in 1998 and surprisingly, we won! It was a tremendous honor and a ceremony was held in Washington DC for all the winners. 

Over the years, AIA CES Award of Excellence became the ‘gold standard’ for companies developing continuing education courses for architects and designers in the U.S. and worldwide. Many professional associations have emulated the AIA’s program for their own members, a tremendous legacy for the AIA.

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