Jacob Bruce entered USD as a wide-eyed freshman four years ago. Today, he’s a recent Honors Program graduate with a degree in architecture and only the second USD student to be admitted to the Masters of Architecture Program at the Harvard School of Design.
Bruce’s time at USD includes being a Residential Life resident assistant and being captain of the men’s cross-country team, but he was also an active member of University Ministry, Phi Beta Kappa, a founding member of American Institute of Architecture, a recipient of the prestigious Keck Undergraduate Research Fellowship and a Student Technology Assistant on campus. While his impressive and extensive resume speaks of a man with intention and foresight, a younger Bruce entered USD with no declared major.
When asked why he chose USD, Bruce explains, “I really liked the USD campus environment and that it is a Catholic school with a strong academic environment. I also wanted to run cross country and it was a school at which I’d be able to compete.”
Even though Bruce was confident that USD was the college for him, he was less clear about his field of study. “I was undeclared as a freshman and tried a lot of different classes; I sampled almost every type of class possible.”
Things changed his sophomore year. Bruce took an architecture class, “From Spheres to Atmospheres,” with Professor Daniel Lopez-Perez and was hooked.
“I really liked the culture of the [architecture] program and it inspired me to declare architecture as my major,” Bruce says. “Even though I work hard, what I’ve been able to accomplish is thanks to professors like Daniel Lopez-Perez, Whitney Moon, Juliana Maxim, and Can Bilsel.”
In fact, Lopez-Perez suggested Bruce get involved with research and this initial suggestion is how Bruce eventually earned both the Keck Undergraduate Research Fellowship and a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Award.
“I asked about summer work and he suggested that I get involved with research. In 2011, I received the Keck Undergraduate Research Fellowship for a research project titled, From Spheres to Atmospheres. I worked with Professor Lopez-Perez and students Sou Fang and Devon Morris analyzing thirty geodesic dome prototypes designed by R. Buckminster Fuller. A manuscript of the Spherical Atlas is currently under review by the Princeton Architecture Press and Architecture Association Publications in London. We’re really hoping this project will be published soon.”
Last summer, Bruce continued his work as a researcher. He worked on a project called “The Polyhedral Atlas,” which is currently under development and will be continued by Ryan Barney this summer.
Bruce also played an instrumental part in the launching of V-Ray, a photorealistic rendering program. During his time as a Student Technology Assistant, he taught himself the program and then taught it to architecture students in the lower division core studios.
Bruce’s work didn’t stop there, either.
“During my senior year, I designed several faculty websites for (School of Leadership and Education Sciences)’ Department of Learning and Teaching. I also furthered the design of two websites directly related to my research, sphericalatlas.com and polyhedralatlas.com. While the program encouraged me to learn new technology, it also gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge with other faculty and students around campus.”
While it’s clear that Bruce took full advantage of the academic opportunities at USD, he says he learned important life lessons, too.
“I’ve always tried to have a plan, but now I just know to expect the unexpected. I never planned on going to graduate school and never really wanted to, but in my senior year I had a change of mind and decided to apply. I’m now more open to change and also more open to when I try new things. I’ve learned that that’s okay.”
— Taylor Milam
Photo courtesy of Jacob Bruce