“It’s an undeniable fact there’s a gap between academia and industry.”

“Given Teulo’s partnership with professional experts and their experience of delivering practical-world-based workshops, this collaboration will most certainly help us shrink that gap.”

Auckland University of Technology’s Dr Ali GhaffarianHoseini (Head of Department – Built Environment Engineering) and Dr Nariman Ghodrati (Lecturer and Learning and Teaching Advisor) are teaming up with Teulo this month to support emerging professionals better prepare for their future in the architecture and design industry.  

“As the only university of technology in New Zealand, we aim to bridge the gap between academic learning and industry practices,” Nariman says.  “We want our students to see how their learning can be applied in professional practice, as well as the skill set they need to develop to prepare themselves for their future roles.  To achieve this, a strong connection with the industry is crucial.  I believe that this collaboration with Teulo can help us to achieve that aim, and I hope that our relationship evolves beyond collaboration into a strategic partnership that ultimately will benefit our students and the industry.”

This collaborative approach is evident across Ali and Nariman’s work, with their Department of Built Environment Engineering (BEE) sitting inside AUT’s School of Future Environments within the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies.  “For people outside of the department, it might seem like our faculty – which range from engineering to communication – are incompatible.  But, in reality, this is what empowers us and makes us unique.  Collaboration is embedded in our day-to-day operations,” Nariman says.  “Given the multi-dimensional essence of the tasks we’re involved with, we work closely with various other departments,” Ali adds.  “Our main aim at the BEE is to train industry-ready graduates with a future-oriented vision.”

“I get to think  creatively outside of the box and deal with dissimilar challenges on a daily basis.”  Ali agrees.

Both hope that their upcoming collaboration with Teulo will better support students in the transition from academic study to professional practice  “The number one significance would be the provision of a change in perspective,” Ali says.  “For those following the theoretical paradigm, events like this will provide a perception from a more practical point of view.  For the ones with a more hands-on focus, such events will cover the required theoretical basis.”

Ali considers himself to be an amalgamation of an architect, an engineer and an academician.  “This is the result of needing to evolve in order to respond to the multidisciplinary essence of the world of architecture.  I started pursuing a design-based career while solely following my passion.  Along the way, I gradually developed an interest in the academic paradigm and shifted toward this direction.”  

Nariman reflects that he was inspired to join the field by a family friend whose son was studying architecture, though he remembers his own early academic experience as quite challenging.  “At that time, everything was done manually; there was no computer.  I was really impressed by the drawing desk, all the accessories and models.  I enjoyed my time as an architecture student.  It was not easy, but it was fun.  However, when I entered professional practice, I enjoyed working and dealing with people and managing projects more than the actual design process.  So, I decided to shift more toward project management.  I still enjoy working collaboratively to develop a design project but not in the capacity of a designer.”

The aspects of the work that keep them both excited include the creativity and variety they are able to explore.  “I enjoy not having to follow a rigid, repetitive structure,” Nariman says.  “I get to think  creatively outside of the box and deal with dissimilar challenges on a daily basis.”  Ali agrees.  “I work with medial experts, ergonomists, public health experts, psychologists, engineers, social activists, construction labourers and police in my research projects.  It is a unique experience and an opportunity that I do not think you can experience in many other jobs.  Every day is unique and different.”

The upcoming AUT/Teulo collaboration has had to shift online due to the recent round of COVID lockdowns in Auckland, but the team is still excited to deliver the event virtually.  “We are looking forward to a presentation from Greg Simmons, founder and CEO of Insol, and Dyann Stewart from Omega Windows and Doors,” Nariman says.  “They will present about facade screening systems and thermal joinery of windows, their importance in building facades and their technical aspects.  These topics have been developed based on the needs of our final-year Architectural and Construction Engineering students and the event will demonstrate the importance of design and construction of facade systems in improving the energy efficiency of buildings.”  Both hope that this event is the first of many, and they look forward to similar collaborative offerings which tackle topical issues for students including climate change and the tension between design and construction.  

On several occasions, including the recent Times Higher Education rankings, AUT has been highlighted as a future-oriented institution for a changing world and the pandemic context appears to have only strengthened Ali and Nariman’s resolve to explore new ways to improve the pedagogical experience.  “COVID-19 has changed learning environments significantly,” Ali says.  “We need to turn this challenge into an opportunity to become the leading university in conducting high-impact research and delivering excellent learning and teaching experience to our students.  We are on track, but we have a long journey ahead of us.  There is always room for improvement.  For us, exploring and learning never stop.”

To learn more, visit AUT’s Built Environment Engineering Department or follow Ali and Nariman on LinkedIn.

Bex De Prospo
Bex De Prospo