Student profile: Daniel Soetjahjono

Daniel Soetjahjono started studying a double degree in a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Architectural Design in 2015. I have previously considered transferring into the double degree, however did not do so. Daniel is a peer of mine from my current studio, and I was intrigued to know how he was handling the double degree. This interview aims to give an insight of the double degree for VCE students who are planning to further study or any university students who are considering a course transfer.

Why did you choose to do a double degree in Architectural Design and Civil Engineering?
Originally, I wanted to go into Engineering as I was an above-average Maths student and I tailored my VCE selections to be really focused towards that end (i.e. no art/design/humanities subjects). I actually found out about the offering at Monash at their Open Day when I was in Year 12 and was revising my university preferences, and I was overjoyed that I could have my cake and eat it too by fulfilling a shelved childhood dream of mine whilst also making my parents happy.

What skills do you believe you have acquired from each degree?
A question that I have been asking for at least the past year is “what value do I provide with these two skillsets (or mindsets)?” I think as an engineer, if nothing else, I now have numerous ways to confidently convey my ideas visually. Within both degrees there’s an element of pitching your ideas in a convincing way, but in architecture there’s a more meta focus – a kind of self-awareness when thinking about the discipline as a whole. The technical complexity of engineering generally means that your focus is on the problem itself.

What are the challenges you have faced from studying these degrees? (especially together?)
Both disciplines have really abstract concepts. I don’t think that my experience is necessarily representative of the mode of learning embodied in either faculty, but in engineering, there is definitely a clearly defined ballpark for your working – some answers which are clearly wrong. It is also challenging doing engineering as an architecture student, because no one has the faintest clue of graphical excellence.

Have you worked at any architecture or engineering firms?
I’ve been working at Travis Walton Architecture; a small architecture office for a little while now.

What skills have you gained from this position?
I’ve learnt a lot about practical constraints to architecture, which is usually people. Working with clients is good.

What are you planning to do once you graduate?
I’ll work for at least a year or two and see if I still want to do my Masters. I’d really love to get accredited for both professions, but it would be a long road to get there.

If everything goes to plan, Daniel will be graduating from his six year double degree at the end of 2020. At this stage he is planning to take a well deserved break from study and work instead, while deciding whether he wants to complete his Masters in Architecture.