Allison Halpern is the recipient of the SOM Foundation 2014 Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship.
Having grown up in Columbia, Maryland, Allison graduated from the McDonough School in 2004, and in 2008 received a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a Minor in Architectural Studies from Tufts University.
Allison continued her studies at Princeton University, where she worked with Professor David Billington in the study of the bridge designs of French Structural Engineer, Michel Virlogeux, earning an MSE in Civil Engineering in 2010, and an MA in Civil Engineering in 2012. Allison received her PhD from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton in June 2014. Working with Professor Sigrid Adriaenssens, her PhD research focuses on the use of computational form-finding and deterministic optimization methods for improving the stability and serviceability performance of pedestrian bridges constructed for the urban environment.
Allison received the SOM Foundation’s $10,000 2014 Fellowship for her award winning Essay, “Learning from Footbridges: Improving Urban Structural Connections.” In response to the 2008 National Academy of Engineering’s document, “Grand Challenges for Engineering,” and the 2013 ASCE Report Card which classified bridge design in the US as “mediocre,” Allison believes that to change this rating, it is necessary to define what is considered to be a “good” bridge design.
Building on Dr. Billington’s definition that “good” bridge design is exemplified by the tenets of efficiency, economy, and elegance, Allison would like to search beyond the definition of “good,” to identify the criteria of “exceptional” bridge designs through research in the sustainability and design of footbridges in the urban environment.
Following graduation, Allison plans to commence her career in structural engineering, with aspirations to become a bridge designer.