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Design Apprenticeship Program


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Teens & Young Adults

The Design Apprenticeship Program offers previous National Building Museum Teen Program participants or new particpants with a demonstrated interest in art or design the opportunity to get hands-on design and fabrication experience. In this eight week program, middle and high school students design and construct full-scale projects that they control from concept to completion.

Program Goals

Design Apprenticeship Program participants will:

  • Develop advanced design and technical skills.
  • Build essential personal and social skills by working as productive team members within defined time and project limitations. 
  • Learn from professionals who work with the built environment, including architects, designers, contractors, technicians, and visual artists.

How does the program work?

The Design Apprenticeship Program takes place on Saturdays during the fall and spring of the academic year. Up to 30 students participate each session, attending the program’s eight design-intensive sessions. In a series of short projects, students are given a design challenge—for example, to create a piece of furniture—within a set of design criteria. Studio teams collaborate with design professionals to develop and construct their designs. Participants learn to work with different materials and construction tools. The program culminates with a public design presentation. Students are required to complete Design Apprenticeship Program I, only once, in order to participate in the spring Design Apprenticship Program II, which is an opportunity for participants to work on a more complex project that will benefit a real world client.

DAP 2011 Takoma Education Campus
A Design Apprenticeship Program team assembles their storage solution.
Photo by Museum staff

How can I apply?

Current middle and high school students between the ages of 13 and 18 are eligible to apply. The Design Apprenticeship Program is most appropriate for individuals who have a demonstrated interest or experience in architecture, design, engineering, or art.

Applications for Design Apprenticeship Program I 2015 are available as of August 1. Apply online by August 30, 2015. The fall session is for new students only. The dates are Saturdays, September 26 through November 14. Hours are 10 am–3 pm. This is not a casual drop-in program, and accepted applicants are expected to make a full commitment to all program dates. No emails or phone calls about application status, please. For more information about program or application process, email or call 202.272.2448, ext. 3301.

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Volunteer recruitment for the Design Apprenticeship Program for fall 2015 is now OPEN. Apply by August 30, 2015. If you are a design professional or student in the fields of architecture, urban planning, or education and would be interested in helping inner-city youth learn about design and the built environment, please click here to learn more about volunteering at the Museum. Volunteers for teen programs must be of 18 years of age or older, and must be able to commit to at least 6 of the 8 Saturdays for the Design Apprenticeship Program. Attending the pre-program training session on Saturday, September 19, 10am - 2 pm is also mandatory.


Currently we do not offer internship positions with the Design Apprenticeship Program. Current college students or recent graduates who are interested in a greater commitment to the Museum's education programming can click here to learn more about internships at the Museum.


For more information, please contact the Teen Programs Coordinator at 202.272.2448, ext. 3301 or email


The Design Apprenticeship Program is generously supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; The Tower Companies; Hattie M. Strong Foundation; Clark Charitable Foundation; DAVIS Construction; Zeldin Family Foundation; Beech Street Foundation; and an anonymous donor. Geppetto Catering, Inc. is the official meal provider of Teen Programs at the National Building Museum.