Gierson Receives LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship

Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student Matthew Gierson was recently named a recipient of the highly competitive Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship.

The fellowship will provide $30,000 per school year for two years to cover education costs and some living costs. Throughout the fellowship program, Gierson will be paired with a professor and will take part in a number of events and meetings with fellow award recipients.

“I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to be an awardee of the prestigious LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship,” Gierson said. “This opportunity is allowing me to work closely with my professor on our own specialized research project in our area of choice. In addition to all of the academic and financial benefits, the UMD fellows of this award hold monthly meetings, during which distinguished individuals provide presentations related to trending topics and state-of-the-art research in the STEM fields. These meetings promote interaction between awardees and professionals in the field, and they help open our minds to new knowledge, innovations, and STEM fields.”

A first-year graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Civil Engineering with a focus in Structures, Gierson knew he wanted to pursue engineering from a very young age.

“From assembling LEGO buildings to constructing sandcastles, I have been absorbed in engineering since childhood,” he said.

In grade school, Gierson excelled in his STEM classes and, in high school, he participated in a program at Johns Hopkins University known as “Engineering Innovations,” during which he learned about the many applications civil engineering has to offer.

“I realized that it’s very difficult to think of anything that surrounds you that is not a direct outcome of some form of engineering,” he said. “That being said, I am fascinated and intrigued by what I have learned, and I continue to learn more about civil engineering every day.”

Without a doubt, Gierson is drawn to structural engineering, in particular.

“The ability to build such complex structures – such as buildings and bridges – using advanced technology combined with so many facets of mathematics is simply astounding; and, building them is just the beginning,” he said. “Ensuring that each structure will remain intact under a number of conditions is the goal and, being from Florida, I realize that one of the main factors for resistance on buildings is wind during hurricanes.”

As such, Gierson’s favorite research focus area is wind tunnel testing.

“For this research, a scale model of a structure is put in a wind tunnel and tested to check the pressures on different points of the building,” he explained. “These pressures are then used for designing multiple structural components of the building.”

Gierson is no stranger to the LSAMP program. As an undergraduate at Florida International University, he received an LSAMP award known as the Florida-Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (FGLSAMP) Scholarship Award, which provided him with a $1,500 stipend over his final two academic semesters as an undergraduate.

About the LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship

The LSAMP Brdige to the Doctorate Fellowship is a highly competitive program designed to encourage and support graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. More importantly, the program specifically seeks to support graduate students who graduated from an LSAMP undergraduate institution and participated in an LSAMP program during their matriculation. For more information, visit the University of Maryland Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering website.



Published October 2, 2014