UDream, Architecture Career Pathway and Diversity Program, to Return to Carnegie Mellon University

Udream group photo

From 2009 to 2018, the UDream program increased the racial diversity within Pittsburgh’s architecture and urban design fields by over 400%. This first-of-its-kind career pipeline program not only provided mentorship and opportunities for its Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) participants, but it brought top talent to the region. 

Beginning June 2023, UDream will welcome an annual cohort of up to 15 graduates of architecture, design and urban planning programs for a 22-week post-graduate program hosted at the CMU School of Architecture. Admission focuses on candidates from underrepresented backgrounds.

The UDream program includes three phases: a six-week academic intensive module on CMU’s campus, two one-week community engagement modules, and an employment module where participants match with regional architecture and construction firms, community nonprofits, and civic development corporations. The entire 22 week program includes paid internships with a goal of permanent employment in Pittsburgh or graduate school at CMU at the end of the program. 

Because the fall internship period overlaps with the graduate school application cycle, UDream participants receive support for their applications to programs including but not limited to the seven graduate programs at the School of Architecture and the potential to apply for the GEM Fellowship Program. GEM fellows in the School of Architecture enroll in the graduate school at zero cost to the student; tuition, application fees, and stipend are covered. 

UDream is a fully-funded program dedicated to cultivating and retaining diverse talent in Pittsburgh through job placement, professional development, and expanded scholarship opportunities. Additional support is provided for each UDream cohort including a small relocation budget, and registration for architectural events, regional site visits and architectural tours, and team activities offered over the duration of the six-month program. Housing is covered by CMU throughout the summer providing participants time to secure housing for the fall portion of their internships. 

During its first iteration, many UDream alumni remained residents of Pittsburgh after completing the program. In 2017, Safiya Hodari, alumna of UDream and CMU, became the first African American Woman to be licensed as an Architect in Pittsburgh. 

Alicia Volcy, a UDream graduate and Design & Development Consultant Owner at Studio Volcy, states, "UDream did a phenomenal job of helping to diversify the architecture field here in Pittsburgh. It's not often that you have people that just relocate without having any prior experience in a city to just come and be a part of the design profession. UDream did a really good job of connecting the dots."

The following 2023 employment partners will match with UDream participants for internships this fall: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Burns Scalo Development, Desmone, GBBN Architects, Inc, Gensler, IKM Architecture, LGA Partners, Strada Architecture, LLC, mossArchitects, Perkins Eastman Architects, P.C., Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, SmithGroup, and Studio Volcy.

Applications for the upcoming cycle of UDream are now open. The Carnegie Mellon University team will be hosting a virtual open house for interested candidates on Wednesday, April 12. Move-in for the 2023 cohort will take place on June 23. 

Learn more about UDream admissions or how to get involved as a sponsor or employer on the CMU School of Architecture website.

If you have questions, would like to get involved or would like more information, please contact Erica Cochran, Director of the UDream program at udream@andrew.cmu.edu.