Building Bridges

Students attending the International Conference

Winston-Salem and The Republic of Belarus are more than 5,000 miles apart, but students from Forsyth Tech and Belarusian-Russian University’s Architecture Construction College are bridging that gap through a unique and historic collaboration.

On April 28, interior design and architecture students from both colleges took part in their first live international conference.  They used Skype to present outstanding projects through live interactive dialogue.

“People talk about how the world is getting smaller, and this is an example of how we are shrinking diverse groups globally,” says Herb Burns, Department Chair of Forsyth Tech’s Design Technologies program. “This is an exciting opportunity for two different groups to interact with each other.”

Students at Forsyth Tech presented conceptual designs for the college’s new Interactive Learning Commons and Library.

“We used six different programs to produce digital 3D models,” says architecture technology student Jake Denton. “This was a great opportunity to establish a relationship and rapport with students in another country. There’s a lot to look forward to in the future.”

“We are starting the conversation about this project, so that five years down the road when design professionals are brought in, the dialogue has already begun with what the campus community wants,” said Interior Design Program Coordinator Giselle Taylor-Wells.

Students were able to ask each other questions about their projects with the help of a translator. Belarusian-Russian University students presented several things they were working on, including 3D digital modeling for a historical church in Belarus.

“It was neat seeing their projects and how they went about the process,” says interior design student Rachel Due. “It feels great to be a part of history.”

The effort is part of a continuing partnership between the two colleges, which has been going on for 11 years—but the first time that Forsyth Tech hosted a live international conference.

“We’re a resource to their students, and want to grow student interactions between our curriculums,” Burns says. “Our vision and next steps are to jointly collaborate on a program and develop an exchange program.”

Students and faculty from both colleges say they were impressed and inspired by each other’s projects, resources and techniques.

“I didn’t know what to expect at first,” says architecture student Daniel Turick. “This was an amazing opportunity. They’re students just like us.”

Plans are already in the works for a second live international conference.