Our Students

Sumanth Thummala

Sumanth Thummala is a dual degree Master of Business Administration and Master of Architecture student, with a professional background in the architecture, real estate, and restaurant industry. He currently serves as president of the UB American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS).


Published November 3, 2022

Why UB and how did you find us?

UB was one of my top choices because of the housing and urban development connection. When I was looking for a dual graduate degree in Management and Architecture, I reached out to about 30 UB Alumni, and almost everyone was very responsive. They responded quickly and helped connect me with program leaders at the university. I felt the community connection right away and the mentorship opportunities available to me. Cost of my education and scholarship options were also a big factor when choosing UB. I knew that there would be a good return on my investment. The city of Buffalo was a very crucial aspect for why I chose UB. I’ve already met some great leaders and surprisingly, the C-Level Executives at very well-developed firms are accessible. This is not common in big cities like San Francisco or New York City.

Why the dual degrees and what are the benefits?

Post undergraduate education, I worked in corporate architecture. I asked a lot of questions about the cost and the business side of how it all works together. Regardless of the industry it is important to know how to work with and manage people. The MBA teaches just that!

The MBA LeaderCORE focuses on the real world, with an emphasis on developing the skills employers have identified as critical for future leaders. Very few schools offer that in combination with the architecture program. Justina Zifchock, adjunct instructor of architecture, and Brian Carter, professor of architecture are both very invested in what I want to do. It’s encouraging to see faculty very involved and supportive of your path, regardless of the project and our needs.

What are you planning to do with your degree?

I plan to start an architecture development firm in the future, my long-term goal, consulting in the affordable housing sector. The business model will provide the community real estate developer build profitable affordable housing, with support from the government.

How are you involved with AIAS?

As President of AIAS, and previous member, this organization helped me to get my first job and make great connections with people in the national AIA organization.

As president, how do you plan to build membership and what are the benefits of joining?

Architecture school is a phenomenal learning arena. It helps us be creative and think outside the box. Given the rigor of the program, there is less emphasis on leadership development and career readiness, which is required to get a job. We’re working closely with Kevin Donovan, Director of Graduate Recruitment in the school of architecture and planning to increase dual program enrollment. We need to fill the gap of career readiness and professional development, so that students get to know professionals in the industry, acquire a job, grow professionally, having good soft skills. One major focus will be on international students and students just starting out in their careers, helping them in career development.

What are your plans to involve the profession and local firms?

We’ve already established an architecture firm competition, including CannonDesign and eco_logic STUDIO. We’re planning to offer firm crawls, meet and greets with industry professionals, development seminars, and a mentor match program, to name a few.

How can a current student get involved?

Interested students can reach out to myself at sumanthr@buffalo.edu or Aditya Datta at adityada@buffalo.edu with any questions. You can also learn more at aias.org and apply for a membership grant.