The RS&H Scholars Program is a multilayered approach to advance underrepresented groups in STEM education and the AEC industry. The scholarship, fellowship and internship program fosters valuable partnerships between students and RS&H mentors – providing academic guidance, career counseling, work-related advice and more to strengthen the scholar’s journey.
Himesh Patel, our first Scholar, is a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and was awarded the scholarship that RS&H funds through the organization. I recently sat down with Himesh to learn about his vision for the future and his experience at RS&H throughout the program.
I hope you take away as much from his insights and perspectives as I have.
What is your vision/hope for the future?
HP: My goal is to be a leader in the fight against climate change. Halfway through my architecture education I “heard the alarm bell” for climate action and that’s been my focus since. I’m driven by making positive change and I’m someone who can’t turn a blind eye to injustice.
Buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gasses and it’s time for us to act. We need to take accountability. Every day people are hearing the call for action, which brings me hope. It’s our work now that will be a crucial factor in the creation of a better future.
What have you already done that is helping you realize this vision?
HP: I’ve taken it upon myself to be educated about sustainable practices in architecture design at both the national and global levels. I took on a minor degree in energy science, policy, and technology in my undergraduate education to further my efforts.
In addition, I implemented sustainable strategies within all my studio projects and even included a focus on climate analysis in my thesis. I took control of my education and pursued the topic wherever and whenever I could. Now, I plan on getting my master’s in sustainability management at Columbia University, which has been my dream school!
Sustainability is such a broad field with various ways to make an impact. Through my studies, I have focused on reducing building and urban scope, water, energy and waste. In addition to this, I’ve always advocated for lower-income communities that don’t have the voice that I do.
From homes washed away in Bangladesh due to torrential rains, dried-up Brazilian agriculture fields that will economically impact owners and their families, and communities of color being displaced due to infrequent weather – I will never stop being a voice for those impacted by climate change and weather events.
What role does diversity, equity, and/or inclusion play in it?
HP: Climate change impacts lower-income communities the most. Water, food and energy scarcity will increase as populations increase. And each increase brings drastic environmental, social, and economic impacts. With sustainable and equitable design, we can help remedy these major problems.
Coming into RS&H as NOMA’s fellow, it’s great to see a firm giving equitable access to people of color and minorities within the profession. Equity means giving opportunities for those historically denied certain equalities due to systemic racism, generational poverty, oppression, and lower-income. In order for us to make progress, these topics cannot be shied away from and must be acknowledged as well as discussed openly – especially in our industry.
How has your time at RS&H helped you?
HP: My experience at RS&H has been amazing! Everyone I’ve encountered at the firm has offered mentorship and leadership to help develop my professional path. Project areas I’ve worked on include urban design, infrastructure, aviation, modular construction, landscape design, and commercial – and it’s only been a few months!
Research and development (R&D) is an important aspect of the fellowship program which I’ve been able to explore through research around clean building certification, system types, and precedents. I’ve consistently had a voice at the table here, and I’ve been able to propose sustainable strategies across several focus areas. My voice has always been respected and acknowledged by Philip Robbie, my supervisor, and the team, Carlos Rios and Darius Woods, which I greatly appreciate. I’m happy to continue this work alongside my team as I resume my schooling this fall.
I hope to also continue working to further the implementation of sustainable design components as well as design that encompasses diversity and inclusion for people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and more.
Follow the Scholars Program Journey
Himesh and our partner organizations are moving the needle and creating new pathways for underrepresented and protected groups in our industry. Be sure to follow Himesh’s journey and the journeys of other RS&H scholars.
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