Pine-Richland graduate wins national architecture contest

Deborah Deasy
| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 8:03 p.m.

Tyler Mikita, 18, of Richland wonders whether to become an engineer or an architect.

He has almost $20,000 in scholarships to study engineering at the University of Akron in Ohio, but he recently won a national contest for budding architects.

“I'm questioning my decision to study engineering,” Mikita said after placing first — and winning $1,500 — in the 2012-13 CAD Design/Drafting Competition sponsored by the National Association of Women in Construction.

“I've always loved architecture. I loved Legos,” said Mikita, a recent graduate of Pine-Richland High School, and the son of Ray and Sandy Mikita.

To win the national design contest, Mikita spent about eight months, often working in the wee hours, to design a prescribed, single-story residence for a family with three children, named the Smiths.

“When everybody thought I was sleeping, I was working on this,” said Mikita, a self-described night owl.

The competition required all participants to incorporate a separate entrance and storage area for a Mrs. Smith's home-based business, plus display cases for Mr. Smith's collection of model tractors.

“What you do, starting off, is you kind of hand draw it, to get ideas. For me, at least, that's the hardest part,” Mikita said.

“Probably a third of the project was me just trying to come up with the original floor plan,” he said. “Because you come up with something, and then you don't like it, and you change it again, and then finally you get something you do like, and you start drawing it on the computer, but then you realize you don't like it, so you go back to hand drawing it, and you finally get something that works.”

Mikita submitted about a dozen 24-inch-by-36-inch blueprints to satisfy contest requirements.

His house plans won local and regional competitions before advancing to the national level.

“This is a big deal ... It's a lot of work,” architect Suzan Lami of Edgewood and Lami Grubb Architects said about Mikita's accomplishment.

“Students all over the country compete against each other and are given the same design problem.”

Lami administers the local CAD Design/Drafting Competition annually sponsored by Pittsburgh Chapter 161 of the National Association of Women in Construction.

“This is the first time we've ever had a first-, second- or third-place winner,” Lami said.

The National Association of Women in Construction annually sponsors the contest to recognize high school students “for creative design, successful problem solving and craftsmanship in preparing architectural drawings,” according to the association's online site.

“Entries are evaluated for detail, accuracy and originality of work.”

Members of the design department at Becker College, Worcester, Mass., judged finalists' entries in this year's competition, according to Sue-Ellen Stoddard, a trustee of the National Association of Women in Construction Education Foundation and CEO of Robmar Design Associates, Hopkinton, Mass.

“We had 658 students participate throughout the United States,” Stoddard said. “We had some amazing entries this year.”

Mikita used Autodesk AutoCAD Architecture software to draw up his house plans and complete his contest entry.

“I can't really draw at all,” said Mikita, who also got help with this contest entry from teacher Jeff Maple of the technology-education department at Pine-Richland High School.

“He skipped lunch and came down to my room every day to work on it,” Maple said. “He worked at home as well.”

Mikita “definitely has a full grip on the idea of architecture and what it's all about ... He fits the engineering mold, too. He pays attention to detail,” Maple said about Mikita. “Either field that he gets into, he's going to be fine.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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