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How I Earned My CDT: Natasha Ayala

By CSI HQ posted 24 days ago


Can you provide an overview of your career, and why you chose to work in this industry?

My name is Natasha Ayala Mercado. I’m an architectural designer, currently pursuing Architectural licensure. Received my bachelor in Architecture from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico back in 2017 and I’ve been working in the industry ever since. I have a passion for Adaptive Preservation and Conservation of Historic Buildings, Ecology, Sustainability and Photography; thus the reason why I chose to work in this industry. Proud to hold a LEED Green Associate certification and most recently a Construction Document Technologist (CDT) certification.

What prompted you to earn your CDT?

While studying for my AREs Project Management and Construction Evaluation tests I realized the content was very similar to what the CDT is about. I decided to intertwine my study time for all 3 test and get a certification while pursuing my Architectural licensure. I’m very proud I made this decision.

How did you study/prepare for the exam?

First, I attended the Portland CSI Fall 2020 CDT Study Class instructed by Cherise Lakeside FCSI, CDT. I learned about this class at a CSI virtual event for Emerging Professionals. Second, I used the PDPG 3rd Edition, CDT Workbook, AIA A201 and every study resource I had for the ARE tests for a period of 2 months. I registered for all 3 test with 4-6 weeks in between, taking the CDT last (due to testing window dates).

What in particular about the exam process stands out for you?

I’ve taken a couple exams at Prometric center, so far the CSI - CDT exam has been one of my best experiences. Very clear instructions, no glitches, neat and user friendly interface.

Was there any surprising, or unexpected methods or preparation that helped you achieve success?

After studying so much for my ARE’s, studying for the CDT was no different. The CDT allowed me to think beyond the architect role and learn the contractors and suppliers side of the process. I learned CSI is not just for architects and the learning/experience exchanges are endless.

How did your professional and personal community support you?

The persons that inspired me to take on the CDT were Architect, Michael Riscica and Senior Specification Writer, Cherise Lakeside. Both of them I met through Young Architect and I’ve had the pleasure to attend a number of online networking events where they have been hosts or speakers. They were constantly saying how much value the CDT adds to one’s career and how this would help me become a better future architect.

How do you feel this will impact your future in the industry and inform the work you do?

I believe having the knowledge acquired through studying for the CDT, will help me be better at what I do. I’m hoping becoming a member of the CSI community, will open doors to meet more people eager to take on the challenge of leading this industry’s youth into the future.