Making a Difference in the Field that Inspires You

On a sunny project site in Madison, Wisconsin, equipped with a white hard hat and brown boots, alumna Laura Halverson ’95 is immersing herself in the design and detail behind the construction of Element Labs.

The new building being constructed by University Research Park is one of many projects the architectural engineering major has led in her role as Science and Technology Market Leader for Affiliated Engineers Inc.

“As a consultant specializing in the design of dynamic building systems for clients that are improving our world, it is consistently motivating to meet scientific researchers who are improving the health and wellness of our global community,” said Halverson.

The new building will address a nationwide shortage of laboratory space in the biosciences by leasing to individual scientific companies to do ground-breaking research for cancer, diabetes and viral infections like Covid-19. Halverson says getting the opportunity to design a building that supports this important work would not have happened without her degree from MSOE and support from those who made her education possible.

“Before attending MSOE, I was confident I wanted to be involved in the building construction industry as a structural engineer. However, MSOE enhanced my path by giving me exposure to the diversity of all systems that makeup a building.”

Coming from a low-income family, Halverson says the scholarships she received to attend MSOE were a key factor in her ability to finish college and have a professional career, and because of that she felt very passionate about making sure those experiences became accessible to future generations.

In 2021, Halverson set up the Gerrits Family Endowed Scholarship to support students majoring in an engineering field and who have a need for financial assistance. For first-generation college students like Milwaukee native Samira Perez, getting to attend college, especially one as prestigious as MSOE, has been a dream come true. This fall, Perez will receive support for the second year from the Gerrits Family Endowed Scholarship as she enters her sophomore year as an architectural engineering major.

“My experience at MSOE has been amazing! I am looking forward to learning about designing structures but have an elevated interest for a structural or electrical specialty and have always loved contributing back to my community. What better way to accomplish this than by building, fixing and maintaining infrastructure as an architectural engineer,” said Perez.

A degree that has brought financial stability and career success to Halverson and her family.

“In addition to myself, my two brothers also received degrees from MSOE in engineering and we’ve all found fruitful careers. This endowed scholarship is not a result of what I can give to MSOE, but what MSOE gave me—the ability to support the next generation of engineers who will improve their own lives and the lives of others.”