Location: San Francisco, CA
College/University: Carnegie Mellon
Post-Disc* Activity: Innovation Designer at Sherwood Design Engineers
Tell us what led you to Disc*. What were you doing when you applied, and what inspired you to enroll?I participated in the Disc* program in the summer of 2016. I was one year out of college, working as an architect in Mumbai, India. However, throughout my work, which I had hoped would focus on affordable housing and design, was focused more on commercial developments and left me feeling with a lack of impact through my work. I was curious on urban design and the studies that went into envisioning the future of cities and how they would grow and adapt based on density and climate, and the Disc* program showed up in my search. I knew then that this would be a great catalyst in helping me plan out my graduate education and career moving forward.
What did you hope to get out of the program? Did your experience match your expectations? Were there any surprises?
With the initial thought that the Disc* program would help direct my path into graduate school and what I would study, my past studies and research had got me thinking about ideas in ways cities could adapt and change based on any natural or man-made disasters over time. The description was at the back of my mind, but the term always eluded me. The experience with Disc* was phenomenal and exceeded my expectations not only in achieving my main goal for graduate school, but also helped me learn the term I had been searching for - “Urban Resilience”. The face that I had found the word that I had been missing for all these years brought about a sense of relief and wonder!
What were some of the highlights of the program for you? What were the biggest takeaways?
How can I single out any particular part of the program? It was organized beautifully! But what stood out to me was the intersection of discovery, learning, and listening, conducted through our site visits with experts in the field, such as Alison Sant, Lidia D’Amico, and Nathaniel Kaufmann. Their ability to keep us engaged, interested, and spark topics of interest in the students was excellent!
Please share your favorite memory from your time in the program.
One of my favorite memories that lasted throughout the program was the variety in experience and knowledge other students brought to the Disc* program. While a good number of students had experience in urban planning, the knowledge that architects, engineers, geologists, planners, and environmental science students also brought to the table were extremely beneficial and even provided a unique perspective on the projects that were presented at the final review.
What advice would you give someone on their first day of the program?
I would recommend the first skill to develop your first week at Disc* would be to LISTEN. You may have the knowledge required to understand the needs and goals of the project, but your teammates bring something unique to the table. Go in with an open mind, listen to what everyone has to say and approach every decision as a group by analyzing the pros and cons of each of your teammates’ suggestions.
What are you up to now? Has Disc* informed the work you're doing out in the world?
Disc* has definitely played an integral role in my education and career path! With the help of Disc*, I was able to understand my personal and professional interests in the field of urban design, which led me to pursue a Masters of Urban Design from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Courses on urban ecology and urban theory helped me determine my interests in urban infrastructure and water scarcity, which has helped me secure a position as an innovation designer at Sherwood Design Engineers in San Francisco - a civil and environmental engineering firm committed to the integration of infrastructure, design, and the environment. I have been working here for almost two years now, and am very keen to continue here and broaden my knowledge!
Looking five years down the road, where do you see yourself? What do you hope to achieve?
Five years down the road, I hope to be growing in my role at Sherwood Design Engineers, hopefully pursuing projects in the field of climate change, coastal adaptation, and urban resilience. I have been given a chance to review Disc* student work at midterms and final reviews before, but I hope to soon have a chance to co-teach the Disc* program some day! It would be a fantastic opportunity to share my knowledge post-Disc* to the up and coming designers of the future!