Ranken Grad Finds Rewarding Career in Architecture


Growing up in Ste. Genevieve, Mo, Cody Henderson enjoyed designing and building things. He thought about pursuing a degree in the field of auto mechanics, but as he considered college options, his girlfriend at the time (and now wife ) suggested that architecture might be a good fit for his interests and abilities.

Ranken Technical College in St. Louis was the right match for Cody, who graduated in 2007 with a bachelor degree in architecture, and for many others who have sought affordable paths to careers associated with the field.

Cody, who also earned a master degree in architecture from SIU-Carbondale, is currently serving as Director of Science & Education for FSA, LLC (Feeler S. Architects), a St. Louis-based comprehensive architecture and design firm, specializing in healthcare, laboratory design, higher education facilities, K-12 education, medical office buildings, and master planning.

He also serves as president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) St. Louis Chapter and finds time to mentor young people who are contemplating their choices.

As he researched colleges, Cody said that Ranken stood out because of its affordability and curriculum. Through Ranken’s Construction Division, students pursue either a two-year Associate of Science in Architectural Technology degree or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Architectural Technology degree. Course offerings cover in-depth design and construction principles, site, structural and building systems engineering, building information modeling, and digital imaging tools.

“I loved the fact that Ranken’s program takes a construction approach that includes everything from the design phase to details that are so important to contractors. I looked at other schools and many of them are more focused around the theory of architecture and the theory of design,” he says. “This approach has served me well in all of my professional roles. In my current job, for instance, I work with clients throughout the entire building process from the beginning to the moment they move in.”

Cody also appreciates Ranken’s experienced faculty, its real-world projects, and opportunities to “earn and learn” with valuable internships with outside companies.

While at Ranken, he worked as an intern in Procter & Gamble’s engineering department and also for Fair Oaks Construction. A summer internship with the ACI/Boland architectural firm led to a full-time job after graduation. He has been in his current role with FSA for almost 10 years.

This is an exciting time to be an architect, much less the president of the AIA, in St. Louis. “The AIA is an organization with a remarkable group of talented professionals who are dedicated to improving the quality of the built environment. I was incredibly fortunate to be asked to be president.”

Because of his leadership in St. Louis, Cody also served on the AIA Missouri Board of Directors and holds a position with the AIA Central States region Emerging Professionals Committee.

He has donated significant time and efforts to time serving as a member and chair of Ranken’s Architectural Advisory Board, and also mentored Ranken students. “I enjoy encouraging students, answering their questions, and helping prepare them to enter the workforce.”

Kelley Raftery, chair of Ranken’s Architectural Technology program, was one of Cody’s instructors. “We are certainly proud of Cody’s accomplishments. He was a great student; and now has the ability to affect the lives of young professionals and the architectural industry – very impressive.” Graduates of Ranken’s program are sought in architectural and engineering firms as drafters, architectural interns, BIM specialists, designers, construction coordinators, engineering technicians, and other roles.

“Ranken is certainly demanding, but I always found it to be a program where you get out of it what you put in,” Cody said. “I always wanted to be the best at what I am doing, so I worked as hard as possible and am grateful for the results.”

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