Albert H. Halff ’50 PhD, founder of a prominent Dallas-based firm, recalls the wellspring of his passion for environmental engineering.
IN 1950, when Albert H. Halff received his PhD in Sanitary Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, he gained something else of great value in that field: first-hand exposure to Abel Wolman ’13, ’15. The influence of the legendary sanitary engineer has inspired Dr. Halff throughout his own long and illustrious career, which has now spanned more than five decades.
Born into a Texas cattle ranching family, Al Halff studied civil engineering at Southern Methodist University. He later taught there and at Texas A&I University and worked for engineering firms in Texas and Oklahoma. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces as a sanitary engineer before arriving at Johns Hopkins. With this broad experience and his new doctorate from Hopkins, he was ready to make his mark.
After his graduation, Dr. Halff founded a one-man civil engineering firm. He proceeded to grow it into Halff Associates, Inc., a highly regarded engineering and design firm employing hundreds of people in projects to improve natural and human-built environments.
The Dallas-headquartered firm diversified its services to include civil, transportation, environmental, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering, architectural design, and geographic information systems. Yet Dr. Halff never let the demands of running the business distract him completely from his passionate interest in the very areas that he and Wolman had explored together so many years before: the provision of safe drinking water.
After selling the company to a group of employees in 1986, Dr. Halff continued as a practicing engineer, including working on projects on desalinization and sewer sludge treatment.
A strong supporter of the Whiting School since its inception, Dr. Halff is especially interested in the development of its Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering.
When asked about his days at Homewood, Dr. Halff once said, “Hopkins was a tremendous experience for me. There was a wonderful faculty, including Abel Wolman, John Geyer, and many others. I have such good memories of my time there.” Good memories, and a prominent place among the engineering leaders educated at Johns Hopkins—even before the Whiting School era began.
“Hopkins was a tremendous experience for me.”ALBERT H. HALFF ’50 PHD