Philadelphia architect Harold Wagoner once said, “The great thing about being an architect is you can walk into your dreams.”
Tony Glebus understands what that means. He knew that he wanted to build things back when he was a little kid tinkering with LEGO construction toys. What he didn’t know then was that one day he would be strolling into structures that he had worked on as a drawing manager at Cuningham Group, one of the top architecture, interior and urban design firms in the country.
Tony learned manual drafting along with AutoCAD, a computer software program for design, drafting, modeling and architectural drawing while at Harding High School in St. Paul. He graduated in 2001 and took a year off to save money before enrolling in the Architectural Technology program at DCTC.
“I’ve always been curious about how things work and how they’re put together,” Tony said. “I’ve always enjoyed buildings and that’s why I chose the path of architecture.”
During Tony’s first semester at DCTC, he once again picked up the practice of manual drafting, something he considers critical to a successful career in architecture. He believes that manual drawing encourages the type of tough thinking you don’t get from pushing around lines on a computer screen.
As one of Tony’s former instructors at DCTC, Charles West is definitely on the same page. “We’re more about doing than theory,” Charles said. “We believe that students become employable through the hands-on drawing and design process. Ninety percent of the world’s best buildings were designed with a pencil.”
Tony also worked hard on polishing his AutoCAD skills, which proved to be one of the smarter moves he made during his time at DCTC.
“Thanks to a family friend, I got the chance to work at Cuningham Group as an intern during my first year in college,” he said. “At first, I worked on building models, but once they found out I knew AutoCAD they said, ‘Hey, we need CAD people right now!'”
As it turned out, Cuningham Group offered Tony a full-time job. Problem was he still had a full semester to go before graduating.
“I went back to the college and talked to Beverly Claybrook (above), who was my instructor at the time,” Tony remembered. “She had been fired up about my internship, but I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to accept the job and still get my degree on time.”
Beverly saw things differently. “Don’t pass it up,” she said. “We’ll come up with a way to get you through your classes.”
Tony followed Beverly’s advice. He took the job, earned his A.A.S. degree and soon found himself working on projects that made his chaotic schedule during school a fond but distant memory.
“I was the drawing manager on a project at the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa in Vegas,” he said. “We designed an hourly day care facility called Kids Quest. That was a fun project, lots of crazy shapes, different colors and different sizes.”
“You’re going to learn more during your first month on the job than you have your entire life.”
As part of his job, Tony flew to Las Vegas for two days to complete the project. Walking into a structure that he had designed was something that he will never forget.
“That was a really cool feeling,” he said with more than a hint of fulfillment in his voice. “I’m looking forward to getting that again.”
Back at Cuningham Group, which has an array of spacious and fashionable offices on the Mississippi riverfront at St. Anthony Main (not to mention other locations inLos Angeles, Madrid and Seoul), Tony advises students and graduates in the field to be aggressive and never stop asking questions.
“I’ve noticed that a lot of grads coming out of school are kind of shy and don’t ask questions,” he said. “You’re going to learn more during your first month on the job than you have your entire life. It can be very intimidating, but you’ve got to ask questions and get on top of it. Wherever you work, people will know that you are there to learn.”
Tony’s long-range goal focuses on studying to become a registered architect. He’s explored a number of different schools and seems to settling on North Dakota State University, which offers a five-year Master of Architecture degree. He has very clear ideas for his future as a registered architect.
“I know that I want to move up in the company,” he said. “I feel that I have what it takes to be a leader.”
For Tony, that means taking on a larger role at Cuningham Group as a project manager. From there, only the dreams he builds will stand in his way.
Working in an environment patterned after the most advanced architectural offices, our students master computer-aided drafting, or CAD, and creative problem solving while engaged in realistic architectural projects.
As skilled architectural technicians, our graduates produce construction documents, presentation drawings and 3-D models. Gaining experience, architectural technicians are able to take on more responsibility, which allows advancement to project management positions.
- The go-to place for education and employment info in Minnesota, iseek.org reports that architectural and civil drafters working in the seven-county metro area make an average wage of $25.11/hour. Top earners pull down $35.36/hour.
- According to salary.com, the typical CAD drafter in the U.S. makes nearly $39,800/year. CAD drafters in the 75th percentile earn slightly more than $46,000/year.
- Published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition notes that job opportunities will be best for “individuals with at least two years of postsecondary training in drafting and considerable skill and experience using computer-aided design and drafting systems.”