When Akash Mattu was growing up, his family had close friends who were architects.
While spending time with them, he learned about the different aspects of the construction industry. This experience, combined with living in India for one year and being part of the ACE (Architecture, Construction Management and Engineering) Mentor Program, drew Mattu to architecture.
“These really opened my eyes to the profound impacts of architecture, from combating social issues like poverty and social equity to creating physical, tangible, beautiful additions to our built environment,” he said.
Mattu was attracted to College of DuPage for its affordability and robust Architecture program.
“I knew there were pre-existing transfer agreements with well-known universities like University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Illinois Institute of Technology, which were on my radar as a soon-to-be high school graduate,” he said. “While touring the facilities, I was also surprised and excited to see the spaces and the professors were excellent.
“COD was instrumental in terms of personal and educational goals. I knew going into the Architecture program that I wanted to transfer to UIUC, and for me, the program was perfect. My second-year professor, Mark Pearson, is a graduate from the UIUC Architecture program and structures the classes similar to UIUC.”
After earning his Associate in Applied Science degree in Pre-Architecture Technology, Mattu transferred to UIUC and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, with a minor in Sustainability, Energy and Environment. He also works for a residential designer in Park Ridge and an architecture publication company.
During spring 2021, he is attending the Illinois School of Architecture’s Chicago Studio, a semester-long residential immersion in the Chicago architectural scene typically exclusive to graduate students.
“The Chicago Studio is a graduate-level course that looks at different sites in the Chicago area. For this semester, the project is looking at Woodlawn and how to reintroduce density and community in the area,” he said. “Chicago’s street grid is laid out so that there are main streets and minor streets. One of the main streets, 63rd Street, runs through Woodlawn but because of disinvestment and governmental interventions, the 63rd Street corridor is not as beautiful as it once was. Our project is to work with the community and local developers to create a masterplan for the 63rd Street corridor as well as pursue our individual design projects.”
Mattu’s career goals include becoming a licensed practicing architect and entering the real estate development sector.
“There’s a huge variety of problems that architects can address, but the people who have the real power to change the construction industry are the developers. I hope to provide real estate professionals an insight into why social equity as well as sustainability should be incorporated into their projects and how to create buildings with positive impacts on the surrounding communities.”
Mattu cannot stress enough how well the Architecture program at COD prepared him for transfer and his future career.
“All of the transfers from my cohort have done really well at whatever school they attended after COD. If you give the program your all, you really start to understand how well the program is structured when you transfer,” he said. “Get out of your comfort zone! You’d be surprised to see how much you can grow as an individual doing things in which you aren’t well-versed. It also makes you that much more of a well-rounded person, which prospective employers love seeing.
“Going to COD was a great decision and I have not looked back once. I really appreciate the job they did preparing me for the next steps in my educational journey and I would urge anyone contemplating the architecture path to seriously consider College of DuPage.”