Designing a Future a World Away

Anthony Sarodh De AlmeidaCultural differences can be difficult to overcome for international students when attending school in a new country. For Anthony Sarodh De Almeida ’12, he thought it was odd when students wore pajamas to class.
“At first I was surprised, but I quickly got used to it,” said Sarodh De Almeida. The differences, however, did not sidetrack the native of Sri Lanka as he came to UW-Stevens Point with a goal in mind: to get hands-on design experience.
Sarodh De Almeida, an honors intern for the Division of Interior Architecture (IA), fulfilled his objective while also providing a service to the community: creating the Sustainable Design Resource Center (SDRC) under the direction of Associate Professor Nisha Fernando.
Sarodh De Almeida had a leg up on other students as he came to the U.S. with a degree in hand. He attended business school at Preston University in United Arab Emirates where his parents were working. “It made sense for me to move there and start a career in business management.” His initial aspiration was to join the family hotel management business, but it didn’t feel right.
•Point of Pride•
When presenting final projects, students in interior architecture are evaluated not only by faculty, but also by clients, including SentryWorld Sports Complex and the UWSP chancellor’s office.
“I was nearing the completion of my degree when I began to realize I wanted to engage in a more hands-on and creative environment,” said Sarodh De Almeida. That’s when he knew it was time for a change.
“I started to pay close attention to art and architecture in rapidly developing Dubai.” Surrounded by Dubai design, including the world’s tallest hotel—Burj al-Arab—which stands on an artificial island in the sea, Sarodh De Almeida was inspired to apply to UWSP’s IA program.
He found several aspects about the IA program that stood out. “The class sizes were small, which indicated the students and professors have daily one-on-one interaction,” said Sarodh De Almeida. “UWSP is a smaller campus but has a large international student population and the location is safe.”
His initial degree in business administration was beneficial as he completed design projects. “I was able to look at design from several perspectives, including that of a client,” said Sarodh De Almeida.
He also used his business background while establishing the SDRC. He acquired sample materials and displayed mock-up models from various vendors in the state.
“Anthony did an extraordinary job establishing a network of product representatives, collecting a wide range of samples, and organizing the information in a way that is useful—not only for IA students, but also for faculty and community members,” said Fernando. “We couldn’t have created the SDRC without his central role in it.”
Today, there is an entire room dedicated to a wealth of information about sustainable design in the form of handouts, books, material samples, light fixtures and demonstration equipment in the SDRC, which is open to campus and community members.
“I was able to understand and appreciate various tools that can be used to monitor the economic, social and environmental benefits of using solar energy through the use of solar panels and heat panels,” said Sarodh De Almeida.
Sarodh De Almeida adjusted well to the lifestyle of an American college student and made many accomplishments during his time here, but he could still never bring himself to wear pajamas to class.