By Richard Zagrzecki
In a kind of roundabout way, Bharath Chandra Malkedkar has one of his childhood friends to thank for sparking his interest in architecture.
Malkedkar grew up in Hyderabad, the fourth-largest metropolitan city in India located in the southern state of Telangana. The father of one of his friends was a structural engineer whose practice was located in a building near the school they attended. He and his friend would go there in the afternoon after classes and hang out.
“When I was there, I would see these models of buildings, which got me to thinking,” he said. “I realized there was a team of people – an entire profession – which catered to designing and creating buildings.”
Fast forward years later, and now Malkedkar is a graduate student at the University of Houston, pursuing a master’s degree in architecture and working a part-time job as a CAD drafter in Facilities, Planning and Construction.
AutoCAD refers to the type of design and drafting software used by the University to document its building space inventory on campus. The floor plans of all the rooms in every campus building are updated whenever changes to those spaces occur.
“So if a room is being expanded or a wall is removed, myself and another worker go out and physically measure and document the space,” Malkedkar said. “Then we come back and update the information in the system.”
He’s only held the position for a few months. He was looking for a job this summer and contacted Dawn Dartez, UH’s space inventory manager, about any possible openings. Turns out she was in the process of looking for someone to fill an empty position.
Malkedkar, who received a bachelor’s degree in architecture back home in India, is the first person in his family to pursue an architectural career path. His father urged him to pursue his graduate studies, so he did a lot of research into what school offered him a quality education while also giving him global exposure. He ended up selecting UH.
Back in July of 2015, he made the long trek to Texas. When he stepped off the plane, it marked the first time he had ever been in the United States. The culture shock hit him almost instantaneously.
“Once I came out of the airport, I didn’t see a lot of people. India is crowded with people. It was a shock in terms of there being less people and more cars than what I was used to in India,” he said.
Although he anticipated having trouble adjusting to American food, that turned out to be easier because of the large Indian population that calls Houston home. That meant plenty of Indian stores and restaurants.
What does he plan to do once he completes his studies at UH?
“I would love to work in a firm that does big-scale projects, including involving sustainable practices,” he said. “I would practice here for a while, then return to India in like six or seven years from now and set up my own studio, taking the knowledge I accrued and applying it back home.”