Now an architect at ZJA in Amsterdam, Anurag Bhattacharya has never lost touch with TU Delft.
Anurag Bhattacharya first heard about TU Delft during an internship in Bucharest, Romania: “I met some architecture students from TU Delft, who told me about their flexible curriculum, where you could combine different design studios and modules in your programme. That kind of variety was new at the time; other universities offered more rigid programmes.” In 2011, he enrolled for a master track at the innovative Hyperbody research group. “Architecture connects technology and aesthetics but studying in India the aesthetic side was more prominent than the technological side. Aesthetic is important, but you should also be able to evaluate what you do. At Hyperbody, I learned how to script and how to develop tools that can be used for computational design and performance evaluation”, he remembers.
Over the years, Anurag has stayed in contact with TU Delft. “TU Delft has recently started reaching out more actively to its alumni via mail, email and LinkedIn and so on, but I had never lost touch”, he says. “I kept in contact with my professors and was asked to give lectures to Hyperbody students. That is important to me. You need to interact with students to stay up to date with what is trending in the academic domain. You can get a lot of ideas from what students are researching. We also sometimes hire new people that way, so it is a win-win situation.”
He is also a member of the Alumni Panel that serves as a sounding board for the alumni relations team. “The panel is made up of different age groups and faculties. We are asked for ideas and opinions on how the university should keep a connection to its alumni: what works, or the things we miss”, he explains. “It is very much an individual choice, but everybody is interested in staying in touch and should be allowed to do so, I believe. I still live in Delft, so for me, it is easy. But alumni living abroad sometimes also feel the need to keep a connection.”
In any profession, you have to keep up with technological developments
The relationship alumni have with their alma mater depends on age groups. “At the moment, I am interested in innovative research groups and meeting people whose skill set could be useful in our company. At a certain age, once you have achieved your own goals, you just want to give something back, without expecting anything in return. Though you find such ‘givers’ in any age group.”
Lifelong learning is another key aspect of career growth. “In any profession, you have to keep up with the latest developments, whether through your university or any other means.” He also keeps learning through R&D. “I was lucky: ZJA has its own R&D division, so I can combine both my interests in research and practice. I am now working on how we use BIM and VR in architectural design, not just to visualize your design to your clients, but as a design tool. With the help of interactive VR, you can judge the quality of design much better than traditional means of drawing, and even make design explorations.”
If he could give his younger self – or current students – a piece of advice, it would be to do an internship. “It will help you understand how the construction market works. Work cultures also vary from country to country. In the Netherlands for example, you work in collaborative teams, whereas in India the process is less integral. That means that here you have to be able to convince other people about your ideas.” One of the first things he learned was that you also must be able to take criticism constructively. “Dutch people are very straightforward. That is not a bad thing: criticism can give you an early heads up if you are moving in the wrong direction before it is too late. Also, an internship helps you understand your shortcomings, so you can work towards your shortcomings. That way, when you graduate, you will be better prepared for the industry.”
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