Congrats to NG!

Katie Gall on August 11, 2020

Yaeger Architecture is excited to announce that our employee, NG, has passed all six of his ARE Exams and is becoming a registered architect! You may recognize NG as he was a Yaeger Employee from 2001-2008, left the firm to work in Taiwan, then returned to Yaeger in July 2019!  Originally from Malaysia, NG’s path to becoming a registered Architect has taken many twists and turns. We find NG’s story interesting and thought you would too! Check out our Q&A session with NG below.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Malaysia and spent my childhood in a small town, Tangkak, at southern state of Johor across from Singapore

How did you end up in the United States?

I received a full scholarship from The Starr Foundation to pursue my education here in the US.

When did you originally start working for our firm?

I started working for DdY as summer intern in my senior year back in 2000 when I first met Carl at KU career fair. To work legally, I had to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) via KU International Support Services (ISS) with intern offer/employment authorization letter from the firm. I was quite appreciative to Carl for the opportunity to get my first taste of architecture in the real world.

What path led you away from our firm/the US?

I was with the firm for seven years until my H-1B work visa could not be renewed for another term (each term is a duration of three years with two terms maximum), so I had to leave the firm and US.

Where did you work while you were away and what experience was gained?

I was looking for opportunities in APEC region, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. My wife (girlfriend back then) abducted me to Taiwan or she wouldn’t marry me, so that was how I ended in Taipei, and amazingly, it was quite a rewarding experience as things unfolded to me over the next 10 years. I spent eight years at LKP Architecture and worked on:

  1. An iconic high-end residential skyscraper in Taiwan with collaboration of international and local design teams. I was the POC on the project given my multilingual and technical background. The project was completed in 2018.
  1. The 2nd major project I oversaw as PM/PA was an international mixed-use project in Melaka, Malaysia; The Rise Residence & Resort by Yeashin International Development.

Regrettably, I did not get to finish and follow through on the 2nd project as I decided to move on seeking career advancement. A year later, I found myself working for AE firm WSP on an MNC data center campus project in Taiwan as architecture/ permitting lead collaborating with our design team from Singapore and United States offices. It was a prelude which eventually led me back to the US.

When did you return to Yaeger Architecture?

I rejoined the firm, now Yaeger Architecture, in the Fall 2019 after my H-1B petition was picked in the final round of the 2019 Fiscal Year H-1B cap. The odds were 33% chance to be picked in the H-1B lottery. Things have changed since I left 10 years ago, and it is good to see some familiar faces in the firm who have been assisting me along the way and getting me up to speed on all fronts. Special thanks to Ben for continuing as my mentor and transitioning from IDP to AXP experience. Fortunately, I kept all the time logs from 2001 to 2008 for his re-verification. It almost seems like I always knew back then that I would come back one day to finish up the unfinished business – dream came true! I am extremely grateful to my wife and kiddos for the sacrifices staying back in Taiwan, allowing me to fully concentrate in preparing for the grueling ARE licensing exams. They were some of the toughest months, being away from my family, working, and trying to pass all the exams.

What was the biggest challenge taking the architectural exams?

With the many challenges overcome trying to come back alone, all before I even started on the ARE, it makes me more appreciative and cherish for the opportunity to be able to prepare and take the exams. The overall support from the firm from fee reimbursement to best office environment for studying to help from TJ, Jessica and Kyle (partakers with the same goal), it has really been great paving my way for unprecedented completion of ARE in 8 months.

Fully aware that I am not exactly young anymore in taking the exams, it was both mentally and physically challenging at my age, so the strategy has always been to complete all six exams as quick as possible without retakes. It took self-discipline and commitment to be consistent weeks ins and out over the course of the exams. Most of the time, I found myself mostly alone, doing it without study groups, workshops, or prep kits. It is all old-fashioned and repetitive studying and understanding. As much as the ultimate goal is to pass the exam; I tried to not just study for the exams, but to really understand the material with additional help from online resources and YouTube learning video postings. I learned a lot more than what I bargained for. On average, I spent more than 20 hours weekly, mostly after work on weekdays and weekends, doing just that.

Another noticeable challenge is the burden of knowing completely different building codes from Taiwan, Malaysia, and Mainland China. it has been both helpful and confusing with the tendency to compare with IBC, which the ARE is based on. Similarly, on metric and imperial system.

Now that I passed the ARE and am in the process of the licensing board review, I hope my journey can be inspiring for exam takers out there. Feel free to reach out to me if there is anything you found resonant and would like to know more about my undertaking. I will be glad to assist. Thank you and good luck!