Perspectives on cities

By

Barbara Trapido-Lurie

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2016 commencement. See the rest here .

Andrew Rogge moved to Arizona to attend ASU, knowing he wanted to start a path to a career in urban planning.

“I’ve always known in a way, because I’ve been interested in architecture. Urban planning really put the title on what I wanted to do,” Rogge said.

“I chose ASU because they had a four-year degree program in urban planning. By the time I knew I wanted to do urban planning, I wanted to get right into it. When I found out about ASU’s program, my mind was made up.”

He might not have predicted the path he followed once here at ASU, however. As a sophomore, he was selected as an intern with the City of Tempe’s Street Transportation Department, and found himself creating an report on bike crashes in the City of Phoenix — a project that required analysis of 529 different accidents — as well as contributing to other projects, like development of a spreadsheet detailing the location of street overlay projects in the year ahead. This “side project” ended up directly resulting in the addition of 10 miles of new bike lanes to the planned projects.

The same semester, he enrolled in “The Global Classroom,” a three-semester collaborative program with Leuphana University in Germany. ASU and Leuphana students met virtually with each other — through Skype — throughout the semester.

“It’s crazy to think that we were sitting in a classroom on a Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. but on the other end it was dinnertime for them,” said Rogge. “Their day was winding down where as we are just trying to wake up.”

The following year, the two groups of students met in person here at ASU, formed groups to work on projects, and after a year’s remote collaboration, the ASU students traveled to Germany to present their work.

For Rogge, a student in Barrett, the Honors College, the connection to Germany and studies in urban planning crystalized in the focus of his honors thesis — a study of urban form in Berlin since its post-Soviet reunification. Extending his stay in Germany to do field work and gather historic imagery, Rogge examined the changes taking place in the urban form of Berlin and the way iconic symbols of the city’s “image” have evolved.

Focusing again on a local level, Rogge enrolled in a graduate-level studio class, in which he and his classmates helped establish an action plan for downtown Mesa.

Now, as he’s about to graduate, Rogge has been selected as Dean’s Medalist for the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning — an honor awarded to one outstanding student out of more than 100 graduating with bachelor’s degrees this spring. As part of this honor, Rogge will carry the school’s banner and lead the school’s graduates into the convocation ceremony.

Here Rogge shares some thoughts about his time as a Sun Devil and what’s in store post-commencement.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: When you [are] in Barrett, you are required to take a class called “The Human Event.” It’s a Socratic seminar with no more than 15 to 20 people. Being able to enter a class where you are able to talk about philosophy and ideas, right versus wrong, and these different themes is great. I think it teaches you how to think.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Get out and do an internship, try to connect with people working in your field. You need to confirm that this is what you want to go into and do.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I really liked Coor Hall a lot. That’s of course where the School of Geographical Sciences is. The courtyard on the lower level is a really nice spot to hang out — it’s usually busy down there, and I often see a friend or a professor walking by.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’ll be looking for a job. Right now I am looking to work for a city. But I am also trying to keep my options open in case something in the private sector opens up — for example, lots of engineering firms need planners.

I do want to return to grad school at some point in the future. I want to make sure I get a master’s in something that will help me in the future, and I want to figure out exactly what I want to do. Historic preservation and urban design interest me.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If I was given $40 million to solve one problem, I would use it to fund educational programs related to tackling global urban issues through cultural exchanges. I know firsthand from the Global Classroom that such programs provide a unique perspective for students.

I think that in an increasingly global world, intercultural exchanges are one way we can bridge the gap between problems and solutions. Education is perhaps the best investment because it usually pays for itself in the form of the new ideas, solutions and inventions it generates many times over.

Written by Gavin Maxwell, gwmaxwel@asu.edu , School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning