Server Request Timed Out: NCARB’s Six Month Rule and the Law of Unintended Consequences

The Law of Unintended Consequences, as coined by Robert K. Merton, is a concept often used in economics and sociology. Essentially it is a frequently humorous warning that people cannot control the world because of its inherent complexity—specifically because of the complexity of human beings themselves—and that when they try, unforeseeable and undesirable results often are the outcome.

I am reminded of this clever idiom about every three to five minutes when Firefox starts beeping at me. “The server request timed out. Please retry the web page by clicking the refresh/reload button.” I take care of the error that just popped up, hit the submit button once again, watch the rotating circle of blue arrows begin its movement indicating it’s loading, and pray that it will stop and my browser will go blank loading a new page.  It doesn’t of course. Every other intern architect in the nation is staring at this little circle of blue arrows as well, in the hope that they will get their hard earned IDP hours submitted before the Six Month Rule kicks in tomorrow, and work that they have completed and should get credit for is lost forever. I personally have worked in my spare time over the past two weeks to gather all my hours over the past two years, and got all my reports submitted last night/this morning at about 3:30AM—only to realize I made a mistake on the last one. After getting a friendly tech at NCARB to move my report’s status from “Submitted” to “Saved”, I began the process of changing 8 hours in the report to the appropriate category. That process began at 10:30 AM. As I write this—and as Firefox beeps at me again—it is 2:45 PM.  Right now, this new blogger wonders if he will still have time for a hair cut before work!

The familiar error message, and it's friend the loading circle of blue arrows

I am not concerned about being spectacularly (and hopefully in an entertaining way to my readers) inconvenienced by technology today. I’m not even particularly moved to write about the inconveniencing of thousands of people—although that is hopefully not what the august members of NCARB’s board intended. The unintended consequence that I am compelled to write about is the effect this rule will have on aspiring architects who—like myself—cannot find work in the profession. Having been outside of architecture for almost a year now, it is a struggle to keep my hopes up, and convince myself that I will once again work for a firm, and achieve the goal of becoming an architect. If a person in this position loses his or her training hours, when can they count on getting an opportunity for more to satisfy NCARB’s requirements?  Also, if being registered is one’s only hope of staying in architecture (either through his or her own practice, or just landing a job because of improved qualifications), isn’t nullifying a person’s training hours because of an arbitrary deadline kind of cruel? My understanding of the Six Month Rule was not that it was meant to close the doors of architecture to victims of the Recession—already down on their luck. I also have to wonder if making the lives of extremely hard working intern architects, who are busy producing for their firms and trying to hang on to their jobs,  that much more stressful is a good move for the profession. Is discouraging competent people (with jobs or without) from continuing in the profession to registration the intent of this rule? If so, I think the AIA would take issue with NCARB as they often talk about the amount of Registered Architects the profession loses every year. But perhaps NCARB believes building is best left to contractors and developers, and the role of the architect is that of the independent, unregulated, consultant/artist (which many of us seem to be headed toward)? Seems like a really romantic idea, right? Yet somehow, I find myself soldiering on, clicking that submit button again and again, praying for the page to load, and feeling my hair getting shaggier and shaggier.

2 Responses to “Server Request Timed Out: NCARB’s Six Month Rule and the Law of Unintended Consequences”
  1. andreaslangeyaif says:

    Just got this from the AIA Ohio

    Attention IDP Supervisors & Interns!

    In response to the extreme call volume and usage on the NCARB e-EVR system, the reporting deadline for the Six-Month Rule for reporting IDP training hours has been extended to Friday, July 2, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The e-EVR is operating at full capacity. Please be patient as you will encounter lengthy response times. It is strongly recommended that you continue to be diligent in your efforts to access the e-EVR during off-business hours.

    So they did back down after all and gave everyone one more day.

  2. N.M. Cristofaro says:

    Let me be a hard-line voice of dissent for a minute: I think that the rule was necessary, and its been published for a year. People had a long lead time to get their act together. Yes, I procrastinated till the last minute like alot of people. I think the 6 month rule solves several large issues regarding the IDP experience. Will it make it harder to become an architect? Yes & No. People who stay on the ball have an edge. But I think that is for the better. Saying that “NCARB believes building is best left to contractors and developers” is way way over the line. So is claiming that the rule is intended to “discourage”. The rule is intended to make better a better IDP experience thus better architects. & if it discourages some then so be it.

    That being said, i think it is ridiculous that NCARB couldn’t get their act together so this thing could go off without a hitch.

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