Architectural Engineering & Design Certificate


The future of the built environment belongs to whole-brain engineers.

To create a sustainable society where we cannot only live but thrive for generations to come requires engineers who can complement their left-brain technical skills with artistic, imaginative right-brain skills. It requires different kinds of engineers who can not only communicate their visions but do so in a way that inspires their clients to think beyond what’s currently possible.

The Architectural Engineering and Design (AED) program prepares next-generation engineers – engineers who are eager to combine creative and algorithmic thinking – to take on these challenges by creating spaces and structures that not only meet functional needs but are also pleasing, attractive, and exciting. This six-course program, embedded within the civil engineering curriculum, teaches essential skills in structural analysis, architectural design, sustainable systems engineering, and information technology, while giving students closely mentored opportunities to imagine, draw, present, and defend their ideas to top-tier industry professionals.

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Be Whole-Brain

The program’s three-course studio sequence lets you combine what you learn in structural engineering with your creativity and imagination.

In this program, you will:

3D printed model of a skyscrapter
  • Take the design-thinking skills you’ve learned in Engineering First and apply them on a much larger scale by designing structures such as schools and skyscrapers. Learn to develop and communicate your ideas with freehand and computer-aided drawing, and in the process, develop your creative skills.
  • Learn building information modeling (BIM) and elements of sustainable design to create your own feasible, practical, and attractive structural designs.
  • Print your models with McCormick’s state-of-the-art 3D printers.
  • Present and defend your designs to classmates, faculty, and prominent architects and engineers who can provide immediate, personalized feedback on your work. Learning to sell your ideas is critical in every part of engineering, but none more so than architectural engineering and design.

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Study under World-Class Architects and Engineers

Learn from program director Laurence Booth, Richard Halpern/RISE International Distinguished Architect in Residence, one of the Chicago Seven architects who changed the direction of the field away from the rigidity of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to a more individualist and creative approach to architecture. Design principal of Booth Hansen Associates, Booth is an award-winning architect with more than 45 years experience.

In addition to Booth, studio and specialty courses are taught by Scott Cyphers, principal at Booth Hansen Associates, and Mark Sexton, principal at Krueck+Sexton Architects. Civil engineering professors, and other local architects and building industry professionals regularly contribute to the architecture studio, lecturing, critiquing student projects, and offering students personal insights into the industry.

Recent visitors to the studio include:

  • Gordon Gill, founding partner of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
  • Jeanne Gang, founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects
  • Bill Baker, partner in charge of structural engineering, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
  • Joe Burns, managing principal overseeing structural systems, Thornton Tomasetti
  • Tom Beeby, architect, chairman emeritus of HBRA Architects
  • David Block, director of development, The Community Builders, Inc.

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Learn the Latest Technologies

Advances in materials, computation, and energy technologies have changed the face of architecture and engineering. You’ll learn what’s happening now – and what’s coming next, including

  • New building materials, such as composites, super-high-strength concrete, and adaptive, self-monitoring and self-healing systems
  • Total integration of information technology in building life cycles, using building information models to support design, construction, operation, and rehabilitation
  • Evolving requirements for safety and security, including damage-resistant and resilient materials and designs
  • Life-cycle designs that support adaptive reuse of structures as needs change
  • Energy efficiency and sustainability, including use of recycled materials and zero-energy building concepts

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Study Abroad in Europe

Students in Berlin

Every two years AED students have the opportunity to spend a week in a European city working on a design project developed and led by internationally renowned architects such as Helmut Jahn and David Chipperfield. Students also tour local architecture, visit museums, and learn about history and culture.

“One of the things I enjoyed the most was the Architecture and Sustainability International Workshop in the studio of David Chipperfield Architects. The workshop included a studio project and tours that focused on sustainable architecture, materials, and technology along with the development of urbanism in Berlin.” – Tony Vasquez, associate designer at Booth Hansen

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Immerse Yourself in Chicago’s Renowned Architectural Scene

One of the most architecturally significant cities in the world, Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper and home of ground-breaking architects including Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn, Adrian Smith, and Jeanne Gang. Take class field trips to the city to learn about the history of the Chicago style, evolution of the skyscraper, recent developments in architectural design, and the integration of unique buildings, public art, and functionality into the fabric of a great city.

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Design your Own Career

Graduates are immediately prepared to join the building and construction industries or pursue graduate studies in architecture, structural engineering, and construction management. Recent alumni of the program have gone on to work as architectural designers, construction managers, and structural engineers.

Mehri Paydar

“The AED program provided me with a means to combine my artistic inclinations with my studies in civil engineering…It was the perfect combination of industry exposure, engineering practice, and innovative thinking.” – Mehri Paydar, assistant project manager at ARCADIS








Francesca Ferrero

“The program introduced me to the iterative design process. You start with your initial idea or design and then you work through it. Then, you see what you have, and decide what you want to keep (if any), and start again. You work towards achieving an optimal solution.” – Francesca Ferrero, structural engineering technician at Qualtim



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Curriculum and Requirements

The certificate program is built on the McCormick School of Engineering Basic Studies Program and the Basic Civil Engineering Curriculum. Civil engineering students completing this program will meet all requirements for the BS degree in civil engineering. Other Northwestern engineering students may earn the certificate by taking two additional courses (eight courses total). Students may also take a variety of elective courses that support the AED program, and most can do this within their allotment of technical, free, and theme electives.

For more information, view the program requirements.

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Related Links

Program Requirements
Declaration of Intent

Contact Information

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
McCormick School of Engineering
Technological Institute
2145 Sheridan Rd. A236
Evanston IL 60208-3109
847-491-3257
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