January 31, 2017 High School Summer Camp: Alumnae Reminisce

For nine years, the College of Architecture and Design has welcomed high school students for a summer design camp called Design Matters! Camp.  This year’s camp is set for July 9-14.  Is it a valuable experience?  Read what three camp alumnae say:


Design Matters! Camp 2013 Group Downtown Knoxville
A look back at Design Matters! Camp in 2007

“I always thought I wanted to be an architect, but I had very little realistic knowledge of what that meant.”

Leslie Hood, a recent graduate of the UT College of Architecture and Design and now an intern architect at Mollenkopf Design Group in Nashville, attended the college’s Design Matters! Camp when she was in high school to fill in the missing pieces.

“Camp allowed a glimpse into what school would be like,” she said, “and it turned out to be a pretty accurate glimpse. While [camp] proved that architecture school was going to be different than how I had imagined, it confirmed my decision to major in architecture.”

For nearly a decade, Design Matters! Camp, a summer architecture and design camp hosted by the college, has immersed motivated high schoolers into life as a design student on the dynamic UT campus through engaging hands-on instruction, challenging studio projects, on-campus activities and educational visits to architectural sites. The week-long summer camp is an introduction to design thinking, so curiosity—not experience—is the sole prerequisite.

When Kirsten Reed, college alumna and now project architect at Niles Bolton Associates in Atlanta, attended DM!C in 2007, she knew that Big Orange Country was a place she could grow in her academic career.

“Design Matters! Camp allowed me a tangible connection to professors and students, who served as mentors to the academic environment and the built environment,” Reed said. “Experiencing the campus and Knoxville, itself, is an invaluable resource for young students considering an

Design Matters! Camp-2013 four girls
A look back: Design Matters! Camp in 2007

architectural profession.”


When not exploring architectural spaces on and around campus, campers participate in daily lectures and studio sessions, where they learn how to communicate their ideas using resources available to students in the college, including the cutting-edge technology like that housed in the college’s state-of-the-art Fab Lab.

Elizabeth Cagle, who attended DM!C alongside Reed and graduated from UT with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2013, credits the camp with readying her for success in her college coursework.

“Design Matters! Camp was the best preparation possible for an academic career in design. The introduction to the studio environment created an easy transition into my first year,” Cagle said.

Information about the 2017 Design Matters! Camp is at

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Registration Limited for 2017 Design Matters! Camp

Design Matters! Camp 2016


Set for July 9-14, Design Matters! Camp is an immersive summer design experience offered by the UT College of Architecture and Design that brings high school students interested in architecture and design to the UT Knoxville campus to learn how design transforms the world.

Students spend the day engaging in lectures, designing in studio, working with state-of-the-art technology, visiting architectural sites and interacting in teambuilding and campus activities, including painting the famous UT Rock.

New this year:  Campers can stay overnight or sign up for day camp. Scholarships are available through May 2, and reduced tuition is available for campers who register before April 29. Registration for Design Matters! Camp is limited.