Ismael Carreno Ortiz on ladder at site visit with TLCD Architecture

Summer Intern Ismael

September 12, 2022

For three weeks this summer we had the pleasure of welcoming Ismael Carreno Ortiz as an intern before entering the architecture program at California Polytechnic State University at Pomona this fall. In his senior year at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, Ismael enrolled in a local program called NextGen Trades Academy, which prepares students who may not have the opportunity to go to college for well-paying work in the construction trades. It was during a dinner ceremony that Ismael met Letitia Hanke, the Founder and Executive Director of the LIME Foundation, and she connected him to the program opportunity.

Rather than talk about Ismael’s internship experience and background for him, we asked him to write about it himself. We’re sure you will be equally as impressed as we were with this young man.

Ismael at site visit at Harmony School District Occidental

Two men and one woman working on a cardboard architectural model

How I Got Here:
In my sophomore year of high school, we embarked on a career exploration project in which we took multiple tests on personality, morals, and other factors. After I took all the tests, I checked my list and saw that architecture was on it. When I thought about it, I realized that I would like to build homes that are affordable for low-income people and that make a positive impact on communities… communities that have helped me and multiple other people throughout our life. So, while doing this, I could also satisfy my craving for design. I was also taking design courses such as 3D animation and graphic design which would expose me to complex programs and familiarize me with this software. Slowly the pieces started adding up; that same year I also took calculus since I had my mind fixed on becoming an architect.

Why I Wanted to Major in Architecture
My initial reason to become an architect was the design aspect of it; I had thought of making residential buildings with curves and unique designs. I wanted to also create affordable housing for low-income people.

How I Chose Cal Poly Ponoma:
Cal Poly’s core philosophy is “learn by doing” and the idea is that we put the knowledge that we acquire in the lectures and apply them to real world projects where we communicate with other students. It is the polytechnic aspect that drew me in as it would integrate engineering.


Summer intern working on a building model

Summer intern meeting with architect at desk

Internship at TLCD Architecture
While at TLCD, I was exposed to a range of positions that make up a firm. I was able to shadow designers, licensed architects, and other amazing people in the firm’s three studios – as well as others that assist the firm. Additionally, I went on site visits, a photo scouting session, and got a taste of what it is like to be at OAC (owner, architect, contractor) meetings. I got to scan over project plans, find out what the labels meant, and interact with designers. These interactions included walking me through the design process of a building, explaining how to use software such as Revit, or allowing me to do hands on work such as building models. Overall, they seemed to get along well, and this was a healthy learning environment for me.

Insights After:
I was exposed to many topics and got to do hands-on work that I am going to be required to do at Cal Poly Ponoma. This experience reinforced how architecture has a significant impact on the community: it can impact education, healthcare, or provide new spaces for people to interact with. This leads to how spaces affect people’s behavior, a great example of which is TLCD’s project for Sonoma Clean Power. The Advanced Energy Center welcomes the public and students in to learn about clean, energy-saving solutions.

After Graduation:
I want to get my architecture license. I would like to assist in projects taking place in Southern California, and then work on helping my community through programs like Habitat For Humanity. Overall, I would like to see if affordable housing is possible and would like to create housing using sustainable materials.

The Community is important as it has fostered and supported multiple students like me whether through amazing scholarships or great educational opportunities like this shadow internship.

We wish Ismael all the best as he pursues his career in architecture, and hope that he comes by to visit and share how much he is enjoying his education experience. Good luck Ismael!