Academic Excellence Award

Academic Excellence Winner – Devyn Smoter, Construction Sciences & Building Technology

“I’d love to know that the spaces and buildings I have a part in designing serve the community they’re a part of for a very long time.”

Devyn Smoter has always had the benefit of being both logical and creative. It’s a combination that has not only been useful, but allowed her to excel in the Bachelor of Architecture program at Dunwoody.

Originally from St. Michael, Smoter graduated from St. Michael-Albertville High School and spent a year at Anoka-Ramsey Community College before finding her way into the Architecture program at Dunwoody.

The small class-sizes and hands-on learning was a perfect fit for her.

“I didn’t want to be just a number in a lecture hall, I wanted to feel like part of the college,” she said.

She also liked the stability and the direct career path that a technical degree would offer.

“I’ve always loved both math and art equally and being able to use both sides of my brain,” she said. “I chose the architecture program at Dunwoody because the field of architecture allows me to be both creative and logical while trying to problem solve. Architecture allows me to gain experience in a lot of different areas simply by being present in the office or on site and collaborating with the other professionals associated with the construction industry.”

The style of learning at Dunwoody was also a good fit.

“Throughout high school I found that I liked lectures and bookwork, but I always learned more when I was able to actively participate in what I was learning,” Smoter said. “I believe that application is how you really solidify and truly understand something you’ve been told.”

Having support from her classmates and her instructors was another big part of her success during the program.

“The Dunwoody staff are always there to support you and your growth as a student and a professional,” Smoter said. “And the students in my program, especially my cohort, are some of my closest friends.”

Her classmates have also helped her improve as a professional, offering feedback and suggestions throughout the design process.

“We’re always showing each other what we’re working on and giving and receiving feedback on our work,” Smoter said. “It’s always pushed me to be a better designer and have better work in the end. We also function as each other’s distraction if we just need a break from work and to decompress a little bit.”

Throughout the past five-years, Smoter has learned that you “get out of your education what you put in.” It’s been a theme that has pushed her when she is working on a project and exploring concepts for a design.

And having instructors, like Andrew Blaisdell, who encouraged and motivated her allowed Smoter to be her best.

“My studio instructor, Andrew Blaisdell is a very talented designer and passionate instructor,” she said. “He’s good at asking questions about your work to really make you think about why you’re doing something. Whenever I thought I was done with something, he’s always pushed me into the next step to really make my ideas and work stand out and develop further. The way that he talks about architecture inspires me to always think about the experience of the user when designing something within the built environment.”

That concept of constantly working to make things better has been a valuable lesson. “Even though your first idea, or even your fifth idea, sounds really good, you’re never done designing and it can always be better,” Smoter said.

But it hasn’t always been easy and transitioning to online classes during this past spring semester has been one of the biggest challenges. It’s a challenge that she once again looked to her peers in the program to help her overcome.

Looking to the future, Smoter hopes to travel and focus her talents on public interest design, with an emphasis on community-based design and engagement.

“I’d love to know that the spaces and buildings I have a part in designing serve the community they’re a part of for a very long time,” she said.

After graduation, Smoter will be starting full-time employment at the firm she currently works for — Kaas Wilson Architects.

“Dunwoody to me means knowing I’ve gotten an education that will help me build the future I’ve always wanted.”