Student and Alumni Spotlights

Michael Panchery

Disney Inspires Interest in Sustainable and Equitable “Cities of Tomorrow”

Michael Panchery

Urban Planning and Design with a minor in Sustainability
Class of 2024

  • Hometown: Hillsborough, NJ
  • Activities/Organizations/Positions at EJB/Rutgers: Innovation, Design, & Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA), D1 Men’s Ice Hockey

Trips to Disney World and Epcot sparked Michael Panchery’s interest in the future and the idea of the “city of tomorrow.”

As he got older and learned about the social, political, and environmental crises that society would be facing over the next few decades, he realized that cities and communities needed to rapidly change.

“The relevance of the urban planning field became very apparent to me, especially in terms of how planners can transform spaces into great places that are sustainable, equitable, and enjoyable,” he said.

A New Jersey native, Michael was drawn to Rutgers because of its proximity to home and affordability while consistently being named a world-class institution. “Rutgers is large enough to offer a multitude of academic programs, but also create an intimate, tightly-knit community within each of those programs—especially in a small school like the Bloustein School.”

His favorite class within the urban planning major has been Graphical Communication for Planners, taught by Bloustein alumnus Jasmine Grossmann BS ’20, MCRP ‘21. The course enables students to get hands-on experience in learning software relevant to the urban planning field. “The course really appealed to me because it gave the students in my class the opportunity to actually redesign Rutgers’ College Avenue campus, and allowed us to be creative in doing so. It really provided an understanding of what I would be doing on a daily basis as an urban planner and designer.”

Eventually, Michael would like to have his own design firm, a goal within reach through his acceptance into the Bloustein School’s 5-year BS/MCRP program. The five-year program gives exemplary students the opportunity to complete both the undergraduate major and professional graduate degree courses to earn both a bachelor’s degree and an MCRP in five years, rather than six.

My advice to students considering Urban Planning & Design is to know that it is not a one-dimensional major. It encompasses a variety of disciplines, from history to architecture to politics,” he said.

“It will expand your knowledge and technical skills and make you a more well-rounded individual. I believe that what truly sets UP&D apart from other programs of study is that there will always be new topics to learn, new issues to solve, and new opportunities to experience.”

Outside of academics, Michael has held a strong interest in entrepreneurship since his elementary school days. At Rutgers, he leads one of the largest on-campus startups, CliMit, which uses GIS and AI to help municipalities understand their risk of climate-induced disasters and how to effectively mitigate them. He feels fortunate to work on CliMit with an incredibly talented and motivated team of students, as well as be mentored by faculty who are part of the Innovation, Design, & Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) and Rutgers Business School. He is also President of Rutgers Club Ice Hockey and Cap & Skull ’24, and enjoys hobbies in graphic design and horticulture.