Meet Dwight Dobberstein: The First Person to Complete NCARB’s Experience Program

NCARB is celebrating its centennial in 2019! As a part of the celebration, we will be posting articles from our archives to remember the history and evolution of the organization. Stay tuned for more glimpses into our past, present, and future, and follow along on social media with #NCARB100.

In 1979, Dwight Dobberstein of Iowa City, Iowa (middle) is smiling over his major accomplishment: becoming the first person to complete the Intern Development Program (IDP)—now called the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP™). Sharing Dwight's success are two Iowa City architects, his IDP sponsor Dick Kruse (left) and advisor Pierce King. We interviewed Dobberstein, Kruse, and King in the March 1979 edition of the Member Board Memo.

"The whole thing depends on how much you want to get out of it,” said Dwight when asked about the experience. “The IDP is an accounting system. Once you find out where you're deficient, it's up to you to make up that deficiency. I was never under the assumption that somebody else was supposed to do the work for me."

"IDP gets around the traditional problem of the young person whose only experience in three years is with working drawings,” said King. “I've looked over the IDP syllabus and feel that it really does cover the necessary areas of training. I also think the emphasis is about right."

Kruse adds a somewhat somber note: "Here in Iowa, I'm afraid Dwight is an exceptional case. There has been very limited interest among our young architects. I am on the executive board of the Iowa AIA chapter, and we think IDP is an excellent program. But we're very much up in the air about how to get it moving."

Dwight estimated that about nine-tenths of his IDP experience was compiled with the firm of Wehner, Nowysz, Pattschull and Pfiffner before completing the work with his later employer, Hansen, Lind, Meyer. But through it all, his key link was his advisor—exactly as the IDP Coordinating Committee intended. Was there any payoff for King as Dwight's advisor? "Oh, sure," he replies. "I think contact with other people, especially younger people, helps a person. We get new ideas and fresh approaches from them."

Speaking of the IDP’s long term potential, Dobberstein says, “I would think that as people become more familiar with the program, they will be looking for it in their applicants for jobs. With IDP behind you, you can lay out a pretty well documented case for being really experienced.”

Dwight Dobberstein also became licensed in Iowa and gained an NCARB Certificate shortly after completing the IDP.

A version of this article originally appeared in a 1979 edition of NCARB’s Member Board Memo.