Spring 2023

New Horizons

An alumnus finds fulfillment in bolstering homeownership and equity through modular housing.
Photography by
Aimee Obidzinski/Pitt Visual Services

Marquis Cofer’s last job had just ended when he decided to take a vacation. He returned to a place he’s visited often — the foothills of New Mexico’s Organ Mountains — for some quiet and reflection. 

On a hike one day, he stood at the trailhead of Soledad Canyon’s 3.5-mile loop where he often encounters roadrunners, quail, tarantulas and other wildlife. Basking in the breeze and sunlight, he contemplated new horizons — here in the wilderness and in his life.

Cofer (BUS ’17) was about to begin a new career at Module, a housing startup that’s gaining recognition for using modular home design and technology to address racial equity, affordability and blight. He hoped it would give him what he was looking for — a professional challenge and a chance to make a difference.

He started as a consultant with Module but today works full time as director of customer experience, a position he earned after helping develop a pitch that secured the company a high-profile contract under Fannie Mae’s Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge. Module’s proposal — one of five selected — emphasized contemporary designs that balance cost, comfort and quality and prioritize energy efficiency and U.S.-based factory partners. 

Cofer says Pitt and the influence of Paul Harper, clinical assistant professor of business, helped him to propel his startup career. However, the work he’s doing with Module has a full-circle significance. Born into a general contracting family in Philadelphia, he has been around real estate and construction his whole life. He’s seen what owning a home can mean for families. He’s also seen that, too often, homeownership can seem out of reach for some groups, including many Black families.

At Module, says Cofer, “we’re doing the right thing,” putting people in quality, affordable homes. “Here, I can do something beneficial for society” — just as he had hoped. 


This story was published on May 5, 2023. It is part of Pitt Magazine's spring 2023 issue.