Graduate Admissions

Aishwarya Katta

MEBD'18

Hometown: Bangalore, India
Education Background: Bachelor’s in Architecture from MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, India

How did you get interested in your field?
During my internship, I worked on a project called Bhavanthi which focused on the development of low-cost and energy efficient buildings. This experience opened my eyes to various principles, their bespoke approach to being sustainable and the need to develop and implement sustainable strategies that are in keeping with the context of climate and culture of the people. While this project was only a start, I knew I wanted to focus on life-cycle approach of projects where buildings are more than just built structures.

What was your background prior to coming to PennDesign?
After graduating my Bachelor’s of Architecture in India, I worked for 3 years in VSDP & DesignQube in India where I got to work on a wide range of projects from residential to commercial. I learnt to engage with clients and contractors and experience first-hand the entire process from investigation and planning, to design and construction. In between jobs, I took couple of months off and backpacked to Singapore, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and several countries in Europe. This was a tremendous experience for me as I learnt about various cultures across the world.

Why did you choose Penn?
Penn’s MEBD program is an excellent program with focus on environmental research projects, impact of materials on global as well as local ecosystems. It is rightly designed for me to achieve my goals. One of the main reasons I joined Penn is its exceptional faculty whose reputation precedes them. William Braham’s books on ecology and Mostapha Sadeghipour’s work on plugins like Honeybee and Ladybug is an inspiration.

What has been your favorite class so far?
My favorite class so far is Technology Designed Elective: Daylighting taught by Jessica Zofchak. This course has both lectures and workshops, where we use various simulation tools to analyze the effectiveness of daylight design. Of the various interesting aspects this course offers, one of the most fascinating assignments we’ve had so far, is using a light meter to keep track of interesting daylight encounters and light level measurements. This is a great way to learn fundamental principles and experiment with lighting design.

What are you learning right now that will help you in the future?
The focus on both practical and theoretical knowledge benefits me to understand how societies function and how sustainable approaches can make a long-term difference to the environment. An in-depth understanding of building simulation tools in architecture is a great way to analyze the process and find solutions to climate-responsive architecture.

What do you like best about Philadelphia?
I found Philadelphia to be a very charming and cozy city with its history and beautiful neighborhoods. It has some amazing restaurants and boutiques spread all over the city. One of my favorite places in Philadelphia is Spruce Street Harbor Park. It’s so lively with its colorful hammocks and food trucks. It overlooks the river-port and I love walking in that area on a breezy day.

What are your career ambitions?
I hope to return to India implement sustainable measures in this extremely precise sensitive society as well as getting developers to shift their thinking from an initial cost approach to a life cycle approach.