Merging Architectural Engineering and Computer Science

Growing up in San Francisco, Chicago, and Detroit, Samantha Muller was fascinated by buildings.

“Walking in the city with my eyes toward the sky, I asked myself how the buildings around me were even possible,” she says.

She eventually realized that architectural engineering held the answers to her questions, and when it came time to choose a college, Illinois Institute of Technology was high on her list.

“There are not many colleges that offer an architectural engineering bachelor's degree, and Illinois Tech is consistently ranked one of the best,” says Samantha.

She attended Illinois Tech’s Scholarship Symposium, which she says sealed the deal. 

“I felt extremely comfortable on the small campus, and the current students were so friendly. I truly feel that coming to Illinois Tech has been my best decision. Being at a small school has opened so many doors for me. At Illinois Tech, if you look for opportunities and build connections, you can accomplish so much,” she says.

Despite coming in with a strong interest in architectural engineering, Samantha has enjoyed studying a broad range of topics including chemistry and physics, and she has a particular fondness for computer science. 

Unsure of which direction to take, she reached out to Assistant Professor of Architectural Engineering Mohammad Heidarinejad for advice. 

“He asked me to explain my interests and later introduced me to the building system semantic modeling project. This project entails using code to create, query, validate, and correct building models for purposes such as improving energy efficiency,” says Samantha.

She started working on the project through the summer 2023 Armour R&D program and says it has given her the perfect combination of computer science and architectural engineering.

“Working on this project gave me exposure to other avenues that an architectural engineering degree can lead to,” she says. “I have realized that choosing my degree doesn’t have to feel confining. Diversifying my resume with a minor in computer science and research will give me the ability to have a niche position in the architectural engineering industry. Based on experience, I can build my own path that is tailored specifically to my interests.”

As a Duchossois Leadership Scholar, Samantha has also had the opportunity to travel to Argentina to do construction and renovation volunteer work at a dog shelter in Córdoba. She is also working on earning the certificate in leadership studies.

“I have attended many different leadership seminars that encourage me to reflect on my values, goals, and leadership qualities. Leadership isn’t easily learned in the classroom, so events like this are an opportunity to develop skills that I carry into the rest of my activities at Illinois Tech,” says Samantha.

As a second-year student, Samantha continues to explore possible career paths such as structural engineering, but says she is inspired by the opportunities in merging computer science and architectural engineering.

“My most recent interest has been building automation. I want to play a part in the rise of smart buildings and creating a more sustainable future,” she says. “I want to use my problem-solving skills to create the structures of our future.”

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