For orchestrating transformational educational experiences through innovative design studios and research initiatives that facilitate student collaboration with peers and professionals from other disciplines, Ahmed K. Ali, assistant professor of architecture, was chosen to receive the 2016 J. Thomas Regan Interdisciplinary Prize.
Established by the College of Architecture’s Dean’s Advisory Council to honor Regan, former dean of the college and champion of interdisciplinary education in the built environment disciplines, the prize is awarded annually to a faculty member selected by a faculty committee from a pool of nominees. Regan died in 2015.
In a spring 2016 studio, Ali’s students collaborated with construction science students, Gessner Engineering, the Coulter and Lily Rush Hoppess Foundation and the city of Bryan to design and build a prototype structure for vendors at the Brazos Valley Farmers Market.
The studio immersed students “in an in-depth and hands-on learning experience in the design, engineering, fabrication, and construction of the structure,” said Weiling He, associate professor of architecture, in a letter supporting Ali’s nomination.
That same studio also engaged graduate landscape architecture students, who created master plans for an historic city block in Bryan that incorporated the farmers market structures, spaces for a new visitor center building, courtyards for outdoor activities and a community garden.
“His students appreciate his direction, enthusiasm and skills in leading such complex projects," said George Mann, professor of architecture, in a letter supporting Ali’s nomination. "His enthusiasm for teaching by doing is inspiring and I believe he is becoming one of the emerging leaders of the college.”
In fall 2016 studio, Ali's students collaborated with Zahner Metals, General Motors and the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development to design building envelopes skins, and roofing systems from auto manufacturing byproducts.
“Ali is an internationally recognized academic advocating resource reuse in the construction industry," said He. "His design innovations that employ reused materials have been published and presented in journals and conferences worldwide,” said He.
Ali, who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2015, earned three graduate degrees at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — a Ph.D. in 2012, a Master of Science in Architecture in 2012 and a Master of Architecture in 2004 — as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture degree at Alexandria University in Egypt in 1997.