Internships Play Vital Role in Curbing Brain Drain in Arkansas


Internships are important to both emerging professionals and to the companies that offer them.  In the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) market internships are critical to the continued growth and advancement of the industry. Internships may very well curb “brain drain” and aid in the economic development of Arkansas.

Students get access to vital experience that shows them what a potential career path will be like.  This exposure can help them have a broad perspective on industry which can enhance their competitiveness in the classroom and eventually help them become a more attractive potential employee

For employers, hosting interns is a great way to identify, attract, and retain talent.  This is important in this industry in Arkansas at a time when many academics believe that students must leave our state to fully reach their potential.

The internship requirements for AEC students in Arkansas vary greatly from school to school and program to program. At University of Arkansas Little Rock, Engineering and Construction Management majors require 800 hours of professional experience for graduation. This can come in several forms of experience, including an internship. The three interior design programs in the state, at University of Arkansas, University of Central Arkansas, and Harding University, require an internship to graduate from each of their individual programs. These internships usually occur in a design-related company. The architecture students in the Fay Jones School of Architecture program at University of Arkansas are not required to participate in an internship before graduation.

According to the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee’s study titled “Losing Our Minds: Brain Drain across the United States,” college educated Arkansans are more likely to leave the state, leaving us in a position of potential economic stagnation. To help curb this issue, the AEC industry in Arkansas can offer internships to students, which will help attract and retain talent in the industry. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2019 survey, there is a 56.1 percent average conversion rate from intern to full-time hire. And, 71.4 percent of those interns stay for at least one year or more.

Interns have great success at getting full-time job offers at a higher rate. According to the NACE survey, 57.5 percent of students with internships received a job offer, compared to 43.7 percent for those who didn’t. Paid internships at companies are more impressive to employers, with 66.4 percent of students with paid internships receiving job offers, while an average of 43.7 percent of unpaid interns were offered a job.

Employers can benefit from hiring students who have interned, too. On average, it takes 62 days from job posting to giving an offer in the AEC industry. A way to encourage growth and expedite the job placement process is to hire interns. This way, the potential talent pool is already identified.

Actively promoting internships for degree-seeking young people in the AEC industry is a step that must be taken to help attract and retain talent. We must recognize this step as an integral part of the development of students, the industry, and our state.

by Cromwell Architects Engineers

Colton Latimer



Sam Kincannon



Emerging Trends for the Changing Workplace


The changing world is constantly influencing how and where we work. Workplaces are more engaging, becoming spaces where people can connect and share ideas.

New strategies challenge traditional workplaces. Well-designed spaces can communicate a company’s identity and be a great recruitment and retention tool. Designing places for people to have a choice in their surroundings helps increase employee satisfaction. Because of this, interior designers focus on providing a variety of spaces that support an engaging work environment. Comfort, connection to nature, and scientifically proven environments are becoming more popular than ever.

Healthcare, education, industrial/manufacturing, hospitality and other industries all have special requirements to address when designing interiors. The design trends resimerical, biophilia, and evidence-based design may not sound like much to most, however they have a huge effect on spaces you visit every day. Interior designers work to coordinate and implement these concepts to improve the function of space, the productivity in work environments, and ultimately the quality of life.

Resimerical is a design hybrid, incorporating elements of residential design into commercial workspaces. Currently, commercial furniture manufacturers are infusing this style into commercial interiors, especially in the arena of mid-century modern options. Collaboration spaces are a good example of a more relaxed, residential-type setting. Cromwell Architects Engineers introduced this style within their collaboration spaces, even going as far as to create a meeting area called the living room that incorporates the furnishings of a mid-century modern home. This space allows employees to meet in a comfortable and relaxed environment.

Biophilic design integrates nature and natural elements, materials, and forms into architecture and interiors. This design style is important for physical and mental well-being. It can help reduce stress while increasing creativity and focus. Examples of this go beyond adding plants into a built environment. It includes visual connectivity with nature from the interior of a building, adding living walls on building exteriors, and green walls for interiors. Using glass on building facades so that everyone may benefit from visual connection to nature is often implemented in new construction. A beautiful example of this is the ArcBest headquarters in Fort Smith. It sits at the top of a hill overlooking the Ozark Mountains and Arkansas River Valley. Floor to ceiling glass walls bring in natural light and helps connect its employees to nature.

Evidence-based design is the process of constructing a building or physical environment based on scientific research to achieve the best possible outcomes. It is especially important in the medical field, where research has shown that the environment can affect patient outcomes. It enhances the patient experience, assists with staff retention, helps to reduce mistakes, assists with infection prevention, and reduces slip and fall issues in the healthcare environment. The Department of Defense even requires evidence-based design be used in their healthcare facilities and many of their own interior designers are EDAC certified individuals.

Social spaces in the workplace are also becoming more popular. Cromwell developed collaborative spaces in the middle of their design studio that include work tables, lounge areas with marker boards, and a coffee bar with a dining table. ArcBest has a community room called The Truck Stop, a multifunctional space for indoor/outdoor dining and meetings. And, one organization in Little Rock’s East Village is incorporating an entire coffee shop into their space so employees can enjoy a coffee shop work environment on-site.

As the workforce changes, we will certainly see new workplace trends emerge. In order to thrive, organizations must assess their own business goals and create the interior spaces that make sense for their own workforce.

by Cromwell Architects Engineers

Building for a Changing Climate in Arkansas


Arkansas woke up on Monday, May 27, 2019, to reports of record flooding on the Arkansas River.  At noon on the same day the website showed 89 tornadoes in the United States over the previous 48 hours from Idaho to Ohio. Climate change seems to be happening at a relatively fast rate.  What can we do to build for changing conditions and increasing natural disasters?

Flood threats are determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which produces Flood Insurance Risk Maps showing the flood way and predicted 100-year and 500-year flood zones. The maps are updated regularly by FEMA based on observations after floods, but tend to lag several years,which is an issue with what appears to be rapidly changing weather patterns.
The typical requirements for building in floodplains are:

  • Avoid building in the flood way,
  • Construction in the flood plain must not increase the flood height
  • Certain structures must be built above the 100-year or 500-year base flood elevation

Today, these regulations are simply not good enough.

Planned infrastructure improvements by the state should include funding for risk mitigation of natural disasters. Current flooding has closed numerous major highways and secondary roads across the state. The most important flood preparation and recovery element are our roads and highways allowing access into and out of flooded areas for evacuation and emergency access. Funding for raising critical roads further above the floodplain should be provided.

With the exception of storm shelters, tornados are not mentioned in the current Arkansas building code.  Minimum design wind speeds in the building code in Arkansas are in the range of 105 to 120 miles per hour which are in the range of an EF0 to a mid range EF2 tornado. But, with minor exceptions, the code does not include requirements to resist flying debris, which causes severe damage in most tornados.

Arkansas is working to adopt an updated building code that requires that all new schools and additions to schools with more than 50 occupants have a tornado shelter. This is a good start, but more needs to be done to ensure the safety of Arkansans in the event of a tornado.

Arkansas could minimize the future impact of tornadoes by enforcing the building code so that all structures are built to the minimum wind load in the code. Storm shelters should be in occupied structures. Most people don’t want to live in bunkers designed to resist the loads and impacts from tornadoes, but buildings should have a shelter or refuge to retreat to during a tornado.

Flooding and wind events are inevitable in the Natural State and risks for these appear to be growing with climate change. But, these simple changes could have an incredible impact on the safety of all Arkansans.

Weston Lummus

Fire Protection Engineering

(501) 400-1058

What is the best compliment you have received?

Many of my coworkers in the past have told me that I’m level headed and easy to talk to about problems that come up.

What was the last thing you binge-watched?

Peaky Blinders

The activity I've never done but want to is…

Take a trip to Japan and explore for a couple weeks.

What is your weirdest quirk?

I like to put ketchup on my beans, most people think it’s gross.

What is your most visited / favorite website? helps me keep up with the latest on the Razorbacks

What was the first concert you went to see?

Willie Nelson at the Aztec Theater in downtown San Antonio

What is your favorite local place to take visiting friends or relatives?

Two Rivers

What is the best advice you've ever been given?

Do what’s right, not what’s easy.

Scott Stricker, CDT

Construction Administration

(501) 400-1058

What are you passionate about personally?

My family. My wife and two boys are the world for me.

What are you most passionate about professionally?

The process of a construction project idea becoming a reality has always fascinated me.

Very few people know that I...

I sang in a boy choir in grade school, learned to ring tower bells in high school, and ‘attempted’ to play the bagpipes in college.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut, of course.

What was the first concert you went to see?

Involuntarily, I was taken to Barton Coliseum to see Fleetwood Mac by my mom and was too young to appreciate it!  Voluntarily, I saw Whitesnake with some friends during high school, and no, Tawny Kitaen was not there.

The activity I've never done but want to is…

Ironically, I would love to work on an explosive demolition crew.

What would the title of your autobiography be?

I took the circuitous route, and that has made for some great scenery.

Michael Chaffee


(501) 400-1053

Jamie Holt, AIA, LEED AP BD+C


(501) 400-1039

What is the best compliment you have received? 

You make me want to be a better person.

What word describes you best?


Between being invisible or being able to fly, which would you choose and why?

Being able to fly, because I’m not creepy.

What was the last picture you took with your phone?

Ele (my dog)

What is your weirdest quirk? 

I always win the discussion when I replay it while driving in the car.

What is the best dish you can cook?

Pork Ribs

What is your favorite local place to take visiting friends or relatives?

Star of India

What are you passionate about personally? 


Arkansas Children's Race for a Healthier Tomorrow


Congratulations to Arkansas Children's on the huge success of the inaugural race for a Healthier Tomorrow. The Cromwell Team was honored to participate.


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