This interview is with Noushin Radnia, an architecture student seeking a dual degree from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, expecting to graduate in May 2018. We recently spoke with her and asked her about her experience within her program and what she's planning to do with her professional future.
What influenced you to pursue a degree in architecture?
Architecture for me is a middle ground for Art, Science, Engineering, Humanity and Culture. It gives me the courage to pursue my approach in different aspects and at the same time be specific about it.
What has your experience been like at UNCC?
As a second year student, I’ve been really enjoying both personal and educational life here at UNCC. I think UNCC is definitely well deserved to be ranked among the top schools in the East Coast. The educational environment gives all students equal chance to be exposed to the variety of opportunities and facilities so they can experience different approaches and select the best path to pursue their interests and passion in the future. As an international student, I believe the level of social and cultural impact that international students and professors bring to school has created a creative and dynamic environment.
Were there other schools you were considering?
Yes, I applied to different architecture schools in the South East. The growth and the potential of the city of Charlotte for young professionals was the determining factor for me. The dual degree program that UNCC offers was another supplement to help me make my final decision.
What is your favorite class so far?
Studio is an inevitable answer to this question. It is part of architect’s culture as the main course. Each semester is a unique experience through Studio. Digital Fabrication is my other favorite so far; it’s all about designing and learning the process through making. The most interesting part is finding your fabricated design piece being installed somewhere in the school of Architecture.
What is unique about the nature of your major’s classes?
I believe you literally LIVE your life through architecture during the years you are studying in an architectural school. I would say you couldn’t differentiate life from school when you’re in architecture school. All aspects of living, studying, being creative, living in a studio, meeting the deadlines, everything blend and become one thing!
What has been the most challenging aspect of this area of study, and was this something you had originally anticipated?
I sometimes feel lost or even overwhelmed being exposed to different information, projects and approaches in architecture. Having a clear idea about what you want to do and finding your own voice is something that challenges you in this area.
Is there anything you wish you had known about this major ahead of time before choosing this career path?
There are a lot of opportunities in the school of architecture to help you find a path to your interest. I got lost in the beginning getting excited about all the fields I heard about. I wish I knew it before hand to identify and be more specific about my interest areas.
What are the best ways to network with your peers within your major?
Studio bays, gallery openings, and events held by student organizations for outside of school activities are places where you can talk and communicate with professors and students.
Have you participated in any internships?
Yes, I had an internship this summer. It was my first experience in the States. I got it through the Career Expo (An event held by School of Architecture that you have the opportunity to present and interview with the local and national firms). Our school has very good relations with professionals in the area. We have multiple mentorships, tours, and lectures to get familiar with the professional life.
What are your future career plans and aspirations?
My experience as an international student helped me to understand that there are spaces/places that can be experienced beyond race, nationality, gender and ethnicity. My intention is to create a space that can be experienced beyond otherism.
What is the best piece of advice related to your field of study that you have received?
I would refer to this quote from Bruce McLaren: “To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one's ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”
What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field?
Architecture is a major where each individual’s worldview matters. So believe in yourself and your talents and take action.
How are you financing your education, and what are your most helpful online resources or tools?
I have my parent’s financial support. I also have a partial assistantship from school that helps as well. I would say the school is the best resource. Because financial aid might vary by major, gender, and sometimes race.
Noushin's Reading List:
- Racing Alone, by Nader Khalili - This is the first book that comes to my mind when I rethink what highlighted this major to me. It’s a novel that takes you on a journey to look so simple and basic that exists in all the corners of the world. The author is the founder of California Institute of Earth Architecture(www.Calearth.org).
- Chair, by Galen Cranz - I was recently introduced to this book and it’s the closest approach that explains my vision to architecture. It starts with the basic concept of sitting and looks into different settings such as cultures, history, art and even political situations to investigate the mutual influence between design and the context.
- Architecture of Happiness, by Alain de Botton - “The architecture and sense of style around us can change affect moods and explain something about ourselves.” This quote from Alain de Botton is the most important point of this book.