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Graduate Student Profiles
Sanjana Ahmed
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Tanzil Shafique
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Sanjana Ahmed and Tanzil Shafique

Sanjana Ahmed
Program: M.Arch II Geofutures
Prior university: BRAC University, B.Arch (5 Year Professional program)
Expected year of graduation: 2014

Tanzil Shafique
Program: M.Arch II Geofutures
Prior university: BRAC University, B.Arch (5 Year Professional program)
Expected year of graduation: 2014

Why did you select Rensselaer for your graduate study?

Sanjana: I was a practicing architect in Bangladesh and I was looking for a graduate program in architecture and urban design on the East Coast of the U.S. I did a google search and the Geofutures program came up. Tanzil and I hadn’t heard of Rensselaer before and looked at the program website online. What appealed to me most was the focus on future cities and the many opportunities to do design projects.

Tanzil: I was teaching undergraduate architecture classes in Bangladesh and was looking for a program on the East Coast that balanced design and history/theory of architecture. Sanjana and I applied to several schools in New York City (Pratt, Parsons, Columbia) and found that Rensselaer is an ideal location because the cost of living is low but New York City is only about two hours away.

What are some of the highlights of the Geofutures program?

Sanjana: I have the creative liberty in the program to really stretch my understanding of architecture. We are designing cities 100 years into the future, something that would be unimaginable in the more conventional architecture programs in Bangladesh. Also, the School of Architecture has an impressive array of lecturers featuring high caliber architects on par with Columbia and other top programs.

Tanzil: The program is showing me paths in architecture that I didn’t even know existed. Like Sanjana said, it focuses on the art of architecture in a way that the more technical training in Bangladesh did not. It puts us at the edge of current design practice and theory.
How does the M.Arch II program in Geofutures fit into your career goals?

Sanjana: The Geofutures program is helping me build my portfolio in an area of interest to me – future city design. I hope to do a year of OPT with a firm after my graduation in May and I am getting my portfolio together now. The Program Director, Chris Perry, has been very helpful in directing Tanzil and me toward work/internship opportunities that are the right fit.

Tanzil: One of the side benefits to the Geofutures program is that I have a lot of exposure to undergraduate teaching in the U.S. This is really important to me as I am considering doing a PhD program that will allow me further teaching opportunities. Next year I plan to take a year off to research PhD program and decide which area of scholarship is most interesting to me.

What advice do you have for prospective South Asian students interested in studying Architecture at RPI?

Sanjana: Keep in mind that one year programs, like Geofutures, have benefits and drawbacks for students from India and the sub-continent. They can be good from a cost prospective, especially when you receive scholarships like Tanzil and me. They can also be challenging if you haven’t studied in the U.S. before as it can take a semester to really get acclimated to the culture, area, etc.

Tanzil: Understand that architecture schools in the U.S., and especially at forward thinking schools like the one at RPI, will treat architecture in an entirely different way than we do on the sub-continent. Here you’ll be able to explore the bounds of design. The programs have the necessary scientific rigor and go far beyond that to explore the art of architecture.


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