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Architecture Students and Faculty Participate in National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Conference

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Melanie Ray speaking at NOMA Conference

The Penn State student chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMAS) had a strong showing at the 42nd annual National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) conference, hosted by the Philadelphia chapter, Oct. 1–5. Chapter members participated in the student design competition and Melanie Ray, current president, spoke on a panel on how student chapters operate at the participants’ respective schools. In addition, Kristin Barry, Penn State architecture faculty member and career advisor for the Stuckeman School, spoke on a panel about graduate school.

“The conference was a great opportunity to present the benefits of our program and its successes to prospective students, and for our students to showcase their leadership in NOMAS and the greater community, “ explained Barry.

At the conference, students networked with high-level executives from New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and other cities, and were invited to share their resumes with colleagues interested in hiring. Several Penn State architecture alumni attended the conference, including Steve Crommity, who is on the Stuckeman School Advisory Board.

The students had the opportunity to meet Jack Travis, who made the documentary “The African American Architect.” They hope to invite him to Penn State to give a lecture. The students had a similar experience at last year’s conference, where they were inspired by LaBarbara Wigfall, professor of architecture at Kansas State, and later obtained funding to bring her to Penn State to lecture and meet with students.

Penn State has maintained a relationship with Kansas State through a partnership called the Associate Schools, which also includes Auburn University and Washington University. The goal is for participating schools to collaborate and become a model for NOMAS chapter interaction.

According to Ray, the conference was “wonderful.” “I think everyone had a great time, and they all plan to return in 2015 when New Orleans hosts it,” said Ray, who holds a national position as a student representative on the executive board of NOMA (she is also the chairwoman of the Professional and Academic Development Student Affairs Sub-Committee). “Overall, the weekend was a great experience, and I think all of the chapter members discovered why the NOMA conference is considered to be a family reunion, as well as a serious networking opportunity. It was a pretty productive weekend!” she said.

For more information about NOMA, visit the website: