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Travel is Integral to Auburn’s MRED Program

MRED Program Travels

Auburn University established an executive, graduate degree in real estate development as a joint venture between the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction and the Harbert College of Business. The program is designed for practicing professionals and leads to a Master in Real Estate Development (MRED) degree.

The Auburn real estate program requires every student to have experienced at least three years working in real estate or a related field such as construction, architecture, engineering, brokerage, or law). Now in its fifth year, with twenty-nine students enrolled, the real estate program is oriented to building on their experience by expanding their knowledge of real estate aims and techniques. The program agenda is somewhat unusual. It includes six field trips where students take part in five-day “virtual classrooms” to learn how their classroom knowledge is applied in practice. They meet developers, architects, and other professionals who explain in detail their approaches to recent development projects and the types of issues they encountered and resolved. Typical places visited in these trips include Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Chicago.

An international trip follows, which Professor Michael Robinson, ASLA, who directs the real estate program, says contributes to students’ understanding of the real estate development process in a variety of political and economic contexts. To make the best use of time abroad requires up to nine months of planning – identifying interesting projects either in the planning, construction, or occupancy stages and arranging discussions with local developers, public officials, designers, etc.

Last year’s trip abroad took 14 students in the Class of 2013 to Melbourne and Auckland, Australia for 12 days. They visited the Emporium Melbourne, a 500,000 square foot, $600 million dollar, retail center in the middle of Downtown Melbourn (it features 225 premium retail stores and restaurants), the Melbourne’s Convention Center and the Docklands Waterfront then toured the Auckland waterfront and a variety of buildings designed to be sustainable, such as the Guyser Building, New Zealand’s first 6-Star Green-Star (New Zealand Green Building Council) energy efficient development. The tours were guided by local architects, construction managers, developers, and urban planners who described conditions in surrounding neighborhoods as well as economic, legislative, and budget factors that led to the design and construction of these projects. The students had the opportunity to compare waterfront development efforts in the two cities, which chose differing strategies to create distinct districts – Melbourne’s more corporate-oriented development compared to Auckland’s interest in creating more place-oriented public amenities.

The university’s program covers costs for hotels, ground transportation, flights between cities, and most meals. Usually, students pay for flights to the destinations, although a substantial subsidy was provided for the expensive trip to Australia. (Also, family and friends may join the trips, with special arrangements for their activities.)

Internationally we have traveled to Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and Auckland. In March we are heading to London and Paris for ten days.