The Rutgers University’s Mandela Washington Fellowship program is part of former President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiatives, where fellows are hosted over a six-week period and are provided with business training methods and networking opportunities. KSS felt incredibly honored to be selected to host four business and architecture entrepreneurs from Africa through this Rutgers program. Young minds from Malawi, Senegal, Sudan, and Ethiopia visited our Princeton office and shared personal experiences in becoming business owners in the AEC industry. These leaders traveled to the United States to receive detailed information about design work that has appealed to them and the KSS team is overjoyed that our designs left a mark in their memories.
Our KSS leaders discussed various topics on developing and maintaining a successful business in design. The fellows we met with had impressive backgrounds and accomplishments—ranging from Forbes 30 Under 30 awardees to participants in the Venice Biennale. Conversations between the fellows and partners led to the discovery of role reversals between architects and contractors in Africa compared to how we function here in the States—learning in Malawi, the contractor works for the architect instead of the architect working for the contractor which prompted a conversation to uncover how this role reversal may be making a difference in process and development.
Another fellow is a leading figure in the urban planning ministry in Sudan, providing a unique perspective on the measures it takes to design entirely new towns. There were fellows who discussed their various specialties in BIM and talks of new, innovative ideas utilizing bamboo. What do you think about bamboo construction at a mass scale?
Lastly, KSS took the fellows on a tour of Princeton, home to a prestigious and historic university, so our friends from Africa could witness a portion of US heritage.
The fellows were reminders for KSS to call to question the ordinary and explore beyond the obvious to produce one-of-a-kind results. Thanks again to Rutgers for introducing us to these creative professionals!