Leah Peker Receives SOM Foundation Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship


Leah Peker is the 2017 recipient of the SOM Foundation Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship. Established by partners of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the foundation’s award “aims to foster an appreciation of the aesthetic potential in the structural design of buildings and bridges by enabling a gifted graduate to experience works of architecture and engineering first hand.”  This prestigious honor awards one structural engineering student each year with a prize of $20,000 to fund several months of international travel and research.  Undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. students across the nation apply.  Since its conception two decades ago, 20 students have been awarded the fellowship.  Leah is the first student to represent the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences among the fellows.

As she travels across five continents, Leah will research her winning topic, The Mathematics of Innovation: Deriving Structural Art From Geometric Form. Leah hopes to gain a better understanding of how the geometric form at the foundation of each structure’s conceptualization influences its form.  She will have the opportunity to visit dozens of structures in person, such as Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain and Santiago Calatrava’s Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden.

After completing her Master’s of Science in May, Leah will head to Europe to begin her trip.  She will spend her time visiting and photographing each of the structures, in addition to conducting interviews with engineers and experts.  Her travels will bring her throughout Europe, China, Southeast Asia, Australia, South America and North America.  She will write an extensive research report upon arrival back in the U.S.


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