Seven Questions with Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments Student Anthony Van Dao
“Studying architecture and currently working for an architecture firm, I am interested in making buildings more sustainable through renewable energy and building design.”
Anthony Van Dao, who grew up in Tucson, entered CAPLA's BS in Sustainable Built Environments program (Sustainable Building Emphasis) after coming to the University of Arizona first as a Bachelor of Architecture student. After taking time off and realizing his passion was sustainability, he returned to UArizona for the SBE program.
What brought you to the University of Arizona to study sustainable built environments?
It’s been a journey for me but being raised in Tucson and being a first-generation student, I always knew I wanted to go the University of Arizona. I remember being in middle school, across the street from the the university at Mansfeld Middle School and going on field trips to the campus. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a Wildcat. Through the process of discovering myself and a series of failures and successes, I found that my passion for sustainability, my conscience for equality, love for art and my past experiences in science and architecture led me to pursue a degree in Sustainable Built Environments.
What do you like best about the SBE program and the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture?
What I like best about the SBE program are my colleagues and professors. I am surrounded by like-minded individuals who share similar values in sustainability. The SBE program is an interdisciplinary program which allows me to learn many new and different subjects pertaining to sustainability and climate change.
What has been your biggest challenge at UArizona, and how have you overcome that challenge?
My biggest challenge was switching my major from Architecture to Sustainable Built Environments. After taking a long break from school, being a non-traditional student coming back was a major challenge for me. In the architecture program, I realized early on that I had a passion for sustainability and would incorporate it into all my design projects. I’ve always known that I wanted to finish my bachelor's degree at the University of Arizona and forever be a Wildcat. I did my research on how I could come back to school and which major I should choose. I am very happy I found a program that fits my interests so closely.
What has been your biggest challenge outside of CAPLA related to your life, and how did you overcome that challenge?
My largest challenge has been funding school. When I was formally in the architecture program, it was quite expensive for me to purchase materials and pay for printing costs. The challenge was balancing school and work life. Taking a break from school allowed me to work and save money. I eventually became a bartender, which worked very well while in school. I am happy to say that, since then, I’ve moved on and found an internship working for an architecture firm. They work well with my school schedule while I continue to learn sustainable concepts and practices in school and get the experience I need to achieve my future goals.
What does the CAPLA experience mean for you?
I am proud to be a Wildcat and to be a part of CAPLA. I firmly believe in the importance of what CAPLA stands for in incorporating and educating in sustainable practices. I have the opportunity to learn from a very diverse group of individuals who offer many different perspectives. The CAPLA experience means everything to me and I’m happy to be a part of it.
What internship have you held, and what are your career aspirations?
I formerly worked for a custom windows and doors company as a drafter in the steel engineering department, working closely with architects and engineers. That was my first job related to architecture. Before that and while in school, I have always worked in the food industry. Currently, I work for a small architecture firm as an architectural intern. Based on my experience, I have utilized my graphics skills to become an asset to the team while learning to draft contract documents. My strength is in Photoshop, 3D modeling/renders, web design and overall graphic design. My aspirations are to continue in architecture and utilize my education in sustainability to make a better world through sustainable buildings and the built environment.
What advice do you have for prospective SBE students?
Make friends, have a good time and network, network, network!