EPCC and SISD build bridges in architecture

The Socorro Independent School District kicked off the 2018-2019 school year with the addition of the Aztec Architecture Academy at El Dorado High School, in East El Paso. 


The addition of the new program allowed incoming students interested in majoring in a career in Architecture to get a better feel of what is expected after graduation.



Socorro ISD's  Aztec Architecture Academy at El Dorado High School, in East El Paso provides students

with the proper materials and instruction to better prepare them for the college environment.



 Luisa Valenzuela who is piloting the program has been teaching Civil Engineering and Architecture at El Dorado for the last 4 years and is excited to lead the program in hopes of getting students prepared for the college curriculum.


“We’re trying to promote architecture and show the students a college environment by getting the students used to due dates, and being comfortable presenting,” Valenzuela said. 


Changes began by doubling the size of the original classroom, students will now be able to work in a bigger space allowing them to essentially work in a college environment. 



New equipment such as plotters will be added to the classroom as well as new updates for the computers to optimize project rendering and allow high quality performance. 


Although the Academy welcomes all, not everyone is accepted. Incoming freshmen had to fill out an application and had to meet several requirements before being chosen.


“They have to apply and we have to see their grades not just anyone can come in, Valenzuela said. “I’ve had students that came and said I applied for it, but they didn’t get approved.”


The Aztec Architecture Academy currently has 35 students and hopes to double that next year. 






EPCC and El Dorado High School continue to work closely through this

new program, having participating in tours and small workshops over the summer.




 After selected, students must meet standards such as keeping an 85 or above in all their classes, and must remain in good standing in order to continue in the program. 


Students must also attend weekly meetings and compete in several competitions each year. “They have to be students whose priority is the program,” Valenzuela said. 


During the summer the accepted students were able to tour the new EPCC Architecture Building, and got to see final presentations from the spring studio classes. 


Academy students were also given a presentation on concept and what is to be expected in their first years as Architecture students. 


Having most of her experience in local residential and commercial structures, Valenzuela had been focusing on meeting budget and construction requirements with her classes. 


However her vision has shifted over the last year and Valenzuela made a decision teaching direction as the foundation for the Academy began to take shape.  


After starting her Masters at Boston College of Architecture, and her contact with EPCC Architecture Coordinator, Alejandro Mireles, Valenzuela has become more mindful of what the mindset is like in an architecture class.  

“Every teacher teaches different according to their experience”. Valenzuela said.


Former El Dorado Architecture graduates believe the program will benefit the students by giving them a head start as an incoming architecture student in any architecture program. 


“If [the new program] benefits the students the way it benefited us..., any student that has graduated from a stem program high school, you can see the difference in the quality that we make.” Irvin Hernandez current second year architecture student at EPCC said.


Valenzuela and professors at El Paso Community College hope to continue to grow a connection between the two schools.

They plan to allow the students in the Aztec Architecture Academy to get involved in events hosted by EPCC to give insight to the architecture community the college has to offer.


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