NJIT Grad Student to Serve on National Board of AIAS

Written by: Shydale James,
Graduate architecture student Michael Chiappa '18 will serve on the 2018-2019 National Board of AIAS — a first for NJIT.
"I made it my mission to build a culture of leadership, advocacy and community through making connections at various levels.”

NJIT boasts the largest board of directors of any AIAS chapter in the nation.

Michael Chiappa ’18, a graduate architecture student in the College of Architecture and Design, has been elected to serve as northeast quad director on the 2018-2019 National Board of the American Institute of Architecture Students, becoming the first student from NJIT to do so in the organization’s 62-year history.

AIAS is the leading student organization in the architecture profession, representing over 4,000 students worldwide. The nonprofit advances leadership, design and service among architecture students through acts of service, community outreach and design interventions.

“We try to be a voice for the school,” said Chiappa, who currently serves as chapter president. “If there are issues, we have the power to do something about it.”

Prior to becoming chapter president, the Lyndhurst native, who holds a B.A. in interior design from NJIT, served as the chapter’s professional development director. During which, he launched “Intern-For-A-Day,” a program that enabled over a dozen AIAS members to shadow professionals on the job.

“I’m a very big fan of not just doing something but creating a culture of doing something,” he said. “If you have the resources, how do you leverage them to do something for the betterment of the school?”

Chiappa’s also big on building unity among students.

He says when he joined NJIT’s AIAS chapter during the first semester of his graduate year, there was a disconnect between undergraduate and graduate students. “I encouraged more of my fellow graduates to get involved with the chapter and slowly saw those barriers diminish,” he said. “Having seen the role student organizations such as AIAS can play in bringing people together, I made it my mission to build a culture of leadership, advocacy and community through making connections at various levels.”

By placing an emphasis on collaborative interaction and student involvement, there has been an uptick in meetings, membership and member involvement. Today, NJIT boasts the largest board of directors of any AIAS chapter in the nation.

“As chapter president, Mike’s leadership has been fundamental in growing the organization, strengthening the role of graduate students within the organization, and fostering its involvement beyond the School of Architecture to connect to other student organizations within the College of Architecture and Design,” said Assistant Professor and AIAS NJIT Faculty Adviser Jesse Lecavalier in a letter of support.

Chiappa, who is set to graduate this year, will step into his new role July 1. He plans to continue to build strong relationships, broaden his intellectual horizons and persist as a vocal advocate for the next generation of architects.

“My job is to find new ways to grow,” he said. “To be a voice and to give a voice.”