For many college-bound students, deciding on a major that could impact the rest of one’s professional life is a painstaking process.
It was much more organic for Sierra Buchan, who is entering her senior year at Windber. As a creative and artistically inclined engineering prospect, she followed her passion for the practical and wound up with a newfound inspiration: Architecture.
That passion put her in 10th place among 5,000 in an international architectural modeling competition, hosted by the Technology Student Association June 21-25 in Nashville, Tenn.
Buchan, vice president of the Windber High School TSA chapter, was the first Rambler to enter the competition. She competed against 5,000 U.S. students as well as participants from Germany and Turkey.
She said the program has helped her explore a niche field that allows her to mesh her practical and artistic sides.
“The categories you had to be interested in were art, design, drafting,” she said, recalling a pamphlet she read that described the field. “I just started reading it. I started researching it, and it turns out that it’s kind of the perfect job for me.”
Ideally, Buchan said she’d like to use her art and design talents “in a way that’s going to be used, not just (for) a picture that’s going to hang up on the wall.”
And when she talks about her TSA contest entry – a 1:6.25 scale model of a day-care center for the elderly centered on a piece of foam core board – her penchant for aesthetics and design shines through.
“It’s a very classic style,” she said of the paper and wood house, modeled to look like an old-fashioned Southern plantation. She included several amenities geared toward the elderly, such as a nurse’s station, kitchen and elevator.
“For senior citizens, a lot of natural lighting is good,” she said of the grids of tall windows on each side. Even in the initial planning stages, she wanted a layout that didn’t require residents to walk much.
These are all criteria that Buchan was judged on at last month’s TSA event. She said the entrants were given plenty of creative control.
“I got to completely design this – they didn’t give us any size specifications or things like that.”
Women in science
This is the second year for the TSA program at Windber, and faculty members are thrilled by its level of student engagement. Schools Superintendent Rick Huffman said Buchan’s recent success is the perfect example.
“In society, we have a little bit of an emphasis to have females participate in the sciences, and Sierra is a great example of that,” he said. “Sierra’s just a wonderful student. Not only is she an academic student, she’s involved in so many extracurriculars.”
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