Nov. 2, 2021

Class of 2021: 5 questions with Matt Walker

The Master of Environmental Design graduate on gaining international experience while at UCalgary and finding a surprising interest in robotics
Matt Walker

This is part of series of articles where we asked the fall cohort of the class of 2021 to reflect on their time at the university and share what they learned and loved about their time here. For more student responses, visit Congratulations, Class of 2021.

Matt Walker just earned his third degree from the University of Calgary. All of them helped him grow his computational design skills and appreciation for making built spaces.  

During his time at UCalgary, Walker worked on design teams at Mercedes + Singh and the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape’s (SAPL) Laboratory for Integrative Design. He specializes in the intersection of computational agency, geometry and materials, and is interested in how the combination of those can be used to improve material performance, environmental sustainability and digital tool thinking.  

Walker graduated with a Master of Environmental Design in fall 2021; he also holds BA’18 and MArch’20 degrees. He took a few minutes to answer our questions about his time at the University of Calgary. 

What advice would you give yourself on your first day of your degree?  

Time moves fast. Although this is my third degree at the University of Calgary, and my second master’s through the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, my experiences in a thesis-based master’s were completely novel. Pursuing your own research is exciting and provides numerous opportunities to expand your interests, but it also comes with a necessary expectation that your time in it must be carefully managed. 

Is there a project, discovery or moment from your time at the university that you are most proud of? 

My involvement in an international collaboration with the world-renowned firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) was my most memorable period of my time in the MEDes program. It allowed me to take part in the talented design-build team at SAPL and ZHA, but it also gave me the opportunity to expand my network beyond anything I could have imagined.   

Tell us about one person who supported you through your studies and powered you along the way. 

There are several people I have to credit for my success in the program and beyond. If I have to bring attention to just one, it is my partner, Michelle. Her unwavering support and patience while I had to push through the toughest times in this program are nothing short of remarkable. The unconditional love and encouragement that she had shown, and continues to show, serves as a helpful inspiration to keep pushing forward.  

What was the most unexpected or surprising thing you learned in your studies at the University of Calgary?  

As strange as it might sound, the most unexpected thing that I encountered while in the program was how I got involved with robotic programming. At the beginning of my architectural education, it was not something I imagined I would become involved with. Now, while I am not explicitly working with robots directly, the techniques and process lend themselves to helpful ways of thinking about design. I believe such experiences will invigorate my career in the coming years. 

What is your favourite physical space on campus? 

It all has to do with what is going on. For instance, if there is an event happening at the City Building and Design Lab downtown, I know I will look forward to returning there, and perhaps catching up with faculty members who supported me in this endeavour. If I am around during studio final reviews, I look forward to returning to campus to view the work that is being done by the talented students at SAPL.  


Congratulations, Class of 2021

Read more Q-and-As from fall 2021 graduates.