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Thread: SUNY Buffalo

  1. #1
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    SUNY Buffalo

    I have just been accepted to SUNY-Buffalo, and would like to hear everyone's opinions on their program.

    1) Also, does the program have connections to any local internship opportunities?
    2) Is there a chance of landing a full-time job in Buffalo, or surrounding area following graduation?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Hey! I am in my first semester at UB, so I can't say a whole lot. They do not require an internship, which I think is unfortunate, but they do offer them. I am not sure how hard it is to get an internship, but I am guessing it won't be too difficult (I need to inquire about it myself).

    The program so far is OK, a little on the regimented side in terms of what classes they want you to take especially in your first two years, but you don't have to follow their list verbatim, I am not.

    The program is what it is, it is decent, neither spectacular nor poor. One thing to consider though is that the program is on the South Campus, which is a half-hour bus ride from the main North campus where almost all the major events and activities occur. In this way classes themselves can feel pretty disconnected from the general campus life. But its a good school and a good program overall. Have you applied to any other schools?

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    To answer #2, Buffalo is among the toughest cities in the United States to find a planning job. Most communities in the area don't have planning agencies or planners on staff. The City of Buffalo, City of Niagara Falls, Erie County, and the Town of Amherst all have barebones staff. The towns of Clarence and Hamburg have one-man planning departments. The Town of Cheektowaga has a zoning inspector with AICP certification. The only planning firm of note in the area is Peter J. Smith, and the larger architectural and engineering firms in the area (Cannon, Foit-Albert, etc) may have one or two staff planners, if any. My guess is that there's about 30 practicing planners working in the Buffalo area, tops. (I'm not counting Ecology & Environment in Lancaster, where there's environmental/NEPA/SEQR planners galore.)

    As a UB SA&P alumnus, I don't want to discourage you from studying planning at UB. I think it's an underrated program; the faculty is very accessible, there are great studio and internship opportunities, and the school is well embedded into the community. The Urban Design Project at UB wrote Buffalo's award-winning comp plan. The program was transformative, it changed my way of thinking, and I learned far more in two years at UB than I did in my undergrad years plus the nearly four years I worked in the field before I returned to school. It's just that planning-related job opportunities in the Buffalo area are extremely rare.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
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    @ Dan. The good news is there are two planning related positions posted on the City's website.
    http://www.city-buffalo.com/Home/Cit...uncements_Jobs

    Some of the SUNY Buffalo MUP grads I spoke with found work with Empire State Development right out of school but that was several years ago.

    That is discouraging to hear that professional planning jobs are hard to find in the area. I would have thought with the abundance of local governments there would be lots of planning positions available.

    @ the op. I am currently in my second year in Buffalo's MUP program and I love it. As Tesla pointed out the SA&P school is not on the main campus but IMO the city is a much more exciting place to be than Amherst.

    My only suggestion is be sure to take as many IT courses as you can. I plan on staying a fifth semester so I can brush up on my GIS, AI, etc. skills. Don't get me wrong, I love to write papers an pontificate, but I have a feeling being able to draw a map and or poster will be more important in the job market.

  5. #5
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    GButler, what other advice or information can you give a prospective student to sell them on UB?

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by GButler View post
    Don't get me wrong, I love to write papers an pontificate, but I have a feeling being able to draw a map and or poster will be more important in the job market.
    This.

    Probably because of the time I entered the profession, I sort of fell between the cracks when it came to GIS training and use. In my undergrad years (late 1980s), we played around a bit with primitive raster-based GIS programs, but an old-school cartography class was still a normal prerequisite. First job in the late 1980s and 1990s, and I didn't have the opportunity to use GIS; my employer had a dedicated GIS tech. Back to grad school, and GIS had advanced somewhat, but it was still primitive; I used it a little bit to make some basic thematic maps for my thesis. Back to the workplace in the late 1990s, and again, no hands-on GIS use; GIS techs made all the maps we needed.

    Whether the job involves it or not, when you have an interview, it's guaranteed that you'll be asked about your GIS experience. The more time you spend in front of the monitor, and the more ma samples you have, the better.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7
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    I'm a recent grad of the MUP program at UB and although the program is undergoing some serious changes I think I can shed some light on it.

    Internships are not required in the curriculum however I highly recommend participating in as many as possible, it will help you with your job search. Emails are sent through the department with opportunities at the places like the city, DOT, and nonprofit groups. I interned with Buffalo's Office of Strategic Planning, Buffalo First, and did an independent study with an area architecture firm. All of these experiences were valuable both to my education and professional development.

    The program is stronger in some specializations than others and that is changing as new faculty is being hired. Dr. Himanshu Grover is skilled in sustainability planning and GIS modeling. This brings and edge to the program's environmental and GIS planning specializations.

    Dr. Verma, the former Department Chair stepped down and has been replaced with long time faculty member Dr. Sternberg. Dr. Verma was a great advocate of planning students offering special programs like graduate opportunities to study abroad (my class went to Germany, last summer there was a trip to the UK) and helped the student government bring a speaker from the White House's Office of Urban Affairs last Spring. Additionally, Planning superstar Bob Shibley has been announced as the new Dean of the Architecture and Planning School. This may also have a profound impact on the tools and resources available to planning students at the school.

    Hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions.

  8. #8
         
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    Are you planning on attending beginning in January? I always wondered about that...do you miss out on traditional "frosh week" activities and progressing along with the new class? Just started studying for the GRE (I know Buff doesn't require it) and have been working as a planner for almost two years in Southern Ontario...

    What about admissions to SUNY Buffalo for MUP? I've always considered it as a "Plan B" not bc of academics or reputation (I'm Canadian)...just in case I didn't get into a desired Canadian school for an MUP or related. I have about a 3.0 in my last two years...maybe a hair less overall with two years planning experience (Honours Geo. Major from a good school)...how do you feel about my odds getting into US schools..? (pending a respectable outcome on the GRE).

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