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March 2018

The AIA Embraces Education Initiatives

Since 2011 when he was appointed the executive vice president and the chief executive officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Robert Ivy has positioned the AIA to be the premier architectural organization for the 21st century.

Named a Fellow of the AIA (FAIA) in 1993, Robert Ivy is passionate about architecture and committed to expanding the vision of architects and designers beyond designing buildings. The AIA is a values-driven organization, and Ivy works tirelessly with the AIA chapters and members to embrace and promote the values of AIA.

The AIA is a membership organization of architects and designers. Formed in 1857 in New York, the AIA has 90,000 members in more than 250 chapters on three continents. The headquarters of the AIA is located in Washington, D.C. and Robert Ivy supervises a staff of 206 and manages an annual budget of $56 million. Since taking the helm of the AIA, Ivy has strengthened the AIA through inspired leadership and launching innovative initiatives. The AIA is an advocate for promoting connections between architecture and social justice issues through community outreach. One area where AIA has made a marked difference is through its education initiatives.

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Robert Ivy and the AIA support budding architects through mentoring interns and funding university grant programs. AIA awards a Medal of Excellence Award for graduating students who “display excellence through their academic career,” a photography competition held annually recognizes outstanding student designs captured in a photograph. A K-8 program provides grants up to $5,000 through AIA’s Learning by Design grant program for underserved youth to promote interest in architecture and design. Webinars and podcasts offering information on state-specific licensing requirements provide information to architecture students. Conferences for AIA members as well as architectural tours in the United States and abroad are additional community outreach programs of the AIA.

Robert Ivy has been very aggressive in increasing the visibility of architects and designers. Through community initiatives, especially education outreach, AIA is doing just that.

The Policies of Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos states that she is “misunderstood” when people criticize her appointment as secretary of education. The criticism of her abilities is due to the fact that her work within the education department of this country in the past is different in comparison to the previous education secretaries. Different does not necessarily entail that she is an unfit pick. There have been problems within the education department of this country for some time, so something different might help the necessary reforms that the school system needs to help students succeed and for this country to be innovative.


DeVos’s experiences in education were focused on philanthropy and a voucher system to help students get the education they are best suited to. This does deviate from what prior education secretaries worked on before they were appointed by the current president. It makes DeVos stand apart and have a unique perspective on how funding and donations can assist a school district. Her philanthropy within her home state, involved the creation of a scholarship for exemplary students who need financial assistance to get the education that is compatible with their needs. She has worked hard to create vouchers for exemplary students to attend schools that are better matched to them or that their parents would prefer.


Betsy DeVos has stated that she is interested in implementing the voucher system or something equivalent to it within the education department. This would allow more students to opt for charter or private school options. She has stated she thinks this would help out the public schools who are underperforming to do better as well, since their funding would then focus on underperforming students. This has come into question if it is a true statement. Trying out some new ideas to improve education in the United States may help through trial and error. DeVos is willing to try new things in the education system with trial and error, which might help the future of the school system in the long run.


DeVos having a desire to try new policy within the education department could very well help the country further identify where the system needs to be improved. DeVos is also comfortably with sticking to her political stances when she is working with other members of President Trump’s administration and with the president. She has vocalized concern over mental illness health care in this country after the school shooting in Florida. She has been calling for an open debate about it since the shooting occurred. DeVos also deviated from the president concerning the transgender bathroom policy, which the president removed. Following the president’s decision, she had a long talk with him and then wrote in a letter that all students should feel comfortable while going to school. She wrote that hopefully states and schools would make their own policy decisions concerning the transgender bathroom rules within their districts.


“Well, we should be funding and investing in students. Not in school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.” stated Betsy DeVos during an interview on 60 minutes. Perhaps her policy on this idea will help to change how our schools are funded. This may improve the future of this country as we teach the next generation with a focused funding effort aimed at them.


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Mike Baur: Best Banker in Switzerland

Becoming the best at anything is an incredibly difficult task. Even for those with natural talent, it takes something extra to excel higher than those before you. One of the most important qualities it takes is complete devotion. It doesn’t matter talented someone is if they don’t apply themselves fully.

That’s what happened to Mike Baur. He began his banking career as an apprentice at a Union Bank of Switzerland. His first day, a hiring manager listed every promotion Baur could expect to achieve if he stayed with UBS until retirement. Despite a promising future, his long-term plan didn’t involve a lifelong commitment to one company.

That’s not saying he didn’t enjoy his time at UBS. He worked for the bank throughout the 90s, racking up a 17-year career with them. By the time he turned 30, he achieved just the amount the hiring manager predicted he would at that age.

By 2008, Baur figured he’d worked at UBS long enough, so he moved on to another bank. Later that year, he got a job in Clariden Leu’s Zurich office. He continued working for Clariden for another six years, but all the red tape that bankers have to deal with depressed his passion for banking.

After leaving the banking industry, Baur began looking for another career. The same year he left Clariden, he decided he wanted to help technology startups and their young owners. He figured that he had a lot to offer these young tech entrepreneurs, and he wanted to help them succeed.

Along with Max Meister, Baur co-founded Swiss Startup Factory. SSUF is the largest incubator program in the nation and has helped thousands of new enterprises get off the ground. SSUF offers numerous services, including a three-month training program that teaches startups everything they need to know to succeed.

Starting an incubator program isn’t just about money. Programs that only care about money usually belong to other companies or political organizations. Swiss Startup Factory is an independent incubator. They only care about growing new enterprises into successful companies.

Thanks to mentors like Mike Baur, many of these entrepreneurs were able to implement new technology ideas. In a way, SSUF is Baur’s way of helping the Swiss economy grow. The more new companies that succeed, the better the economy responds.