By Chara Young
Born at Ohio State University to a mother and father who were both teachers, it seems Andy Ray was destined to find joy in academia. Currently a professor of building construction and technology, as well as program chair for building construction, civil-surveying engineering, and drafting and design technology A.S. degree programs, Andy’s education and experience have prepared him for this role.
Raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Andy earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University in industrial technology, with specializations in building construction and art. He worked as a roofer, remodeler, and architectural drafter in Houston before moving to College Station, Texas where he earned a master’s degree in architecture from Texas A&M University in 1986. Prior to passing the licensing exam, he worked as an intern architect in Fort Myers and moved to Orlando in 1990. The following year, Andy founded Array Design Architects and began as an adjunct, teaching architectural design and construction courses at Valencia.
Loving a challenge, Andy’s love of art and architecture inspired him to serve as a construction manager for Habit for Humanity from 1993 to 1994, and eventually build his own house in 1996 out of light-gage steal frame. In 2000, Andy decided to answer the call to accept a full-time faculty position at Valencia and his wife, also an architect, took over their firm.
Initially hired by Hugh Rogers and Wiley Jones, Andy appreciates the way Gaby Hawat, Nasser Hedayat, Shannon Hellard “have molded the Division of Architecture, Engineering and Technology into one of the strongest programs in the Southeast.”
Andy enjoys the challenges and new opportunities available at Valencia, including the Faculty Exchange to Holland that he participated in last May (see picture above of Andy touring Holland). There he saw “how Dutch Civil Engineering students do their practicum, a process much more extensive than our internships.”
These days, you may see Andy strolling about Lake Pamela on Valencia’s West Campus during his lunch hour, walking his way to better health. In 2011, after recovering from a slipped disk in his lower back, Andy’s doctor recommended low-impact exercise as a way to lose weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol – so he joined Valencia’s 10,000 Steps-a-Day Walking Program. Walking, combined with his tai chi classes, helped Andy shed 20 pounds and reduce his cholesterol and blood pressure. He now averages 10,000 steps a day (up from 5,000 when he started), and racked up a total of 1,660 miles in 2011. Since the start of this year’s challenge, Andy has walked roughly 154 miles, or 300,000 steps.
Andy’s quest to remain healthy helps him enjoy what he considers to be the best part of his job – helping students make a living. He is elated when “former students working in the industry” tell him that “the education they got at Valencia was right in line with construction practices in Central Florida.” This, Andy says, is “even more rewarding than what I get from designing a project, because even if I do a good job at meeting the needs of the client, it doesn’t fundamentally impact their life in the ways employable job skills can help someone support a family.”
Andy has been married to his wife, Alison, for 27 years and they have two sons, Alex 23 and Tony 18. Alex works as a caricature artist at Disney while Tony is a graphic design major at Valencia, working at Triangle Reprographics. Andy and his sons are all Eagle Scouts.
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