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Chapter Leader of the Month (March)

Mandel McDonell
AIAS Arizona State University

Mandel McDonnell is currently finishing his fourth year of the undergraduate architecture program at Arizona State University. He returned to school in 2008 to pursue his passion for architecture and design. Since the 8th grade, he has known that he wanted to be an architect, but life took a different direction. After receiving an associate degree in drafting, starting an automotive upholstery business, and then becoming a Real Estate Appraiser, he thought that he had missed his chance. He was discontent in his prior career choices and was continuously drawn towards his passion for architecture and design. After his daughter was born in 2007, he began to realize that in order to be the best father he could be, he had to lead by inspiration, and thus allow himself to fulfill his passion. So, it was because of his amazing little girl, he decided to take the leap and return to school.

Settling into the rigors of the undergraduate program at ASU, he quickly realized this decision was absolutely right for him. Mandel was excited to be immersed into the world of architecture and design. He originally joined AIAS during the first weeks of his freshman year in the program. He quickly recognized the great benefits of the organization and has continued to appreciate everything that it offers. He currently serves as the Chapter President at ASU, and previously served on the executive board as Historian and Treasurer. Serving on the executive board over the past three years, he has had the great fortune to work with some amazing, dedicated and inspiring people. Every one of them has had a positive impact on his life.

AIAS Arizona State University has experienced expansive growth over the past four years, growing from 24 members during Mandel’s freshman year to over 120 members today. This growth is a direct result of the enthusiasm and passion brought forth by their board. As their membership has grown, so has the quantity and quality of the events that they put on. From monthly chapter meetings, to ping pong tournaments, quad conference to hosting AIAS FORUM 2011, the conception, coordination and collaboration of these events provides endless growth opportunities.

Outside of Mandel’s involvement in AIAS, as he seek to answer the question: “What do I want to do as an architect?” there is not a straightforward answer; rather it initiates a conversation about what architecture is, and what the role of an architect is in the 21st century. His design perspective and process is continually being shaped by each new experience, which has been greatly increased by his involvement in AIAS. Architects have an opportunity to broaden their impact by applying unique problem solving skills to the many social and cultural challenges facing the world today. By exploring how design can be used to affect social experiences, rather than just creating fantastic buildings, architects can shape design solutions that create social value and impact the lives of many. This is where Mandel’s focus lies: serving the public good.

Mandel has made great sacrifices to return to school and have a deep passion for architecture and leadership. He feels that his involvement in AIAS has been tremendously influential and a direct contributor to his academic success thus far. Mandel will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Design and plans to return to ASU in the fall to start the M.Arch program. He looks forward to continuing the expansive growth of their membership and the chapter in order to foster the passion of the next generation AIAS ASU members.


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