ASCE has honored the following winners with the 2016 ASCE President’s Medal:
They are Marc A. Edwards, Ph.D., M.ASCE, for his leadership as a professor at the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, as an activist and scientist in exposing the Flint, MI, water crisis, and for his passion and persistence in fighting to protect the public’s health and safety, and;
Roger M. Millar Jr., P.E., F.ASCE, in recognition of his innovative approaches to program development and delivery, his commitment to and successful integration of sustainable practices into communities nationwide, and his participation on ASCE’s Public Policy Committee.
Edwards, a civil engineer, is playing a vital role in ensuring the safety of drinking water and in exposing deteriorating water-delivery infrastructure in America’s largest cities. An expert in the chemistry and toxicity of urban water supplies in the United States, he has made significant advancements in a broad array of areas, including arsenic removal, coagulation of natural organic material, and the causes and control of copper and lead corrosion in new and aging distribution systems.
Melding rigorous science, concern for public safety, and dogged investigation, Edwards’ recent work focused on the identification and analysis of lead contamination in the Washington, DC, area’s local water supply. In this research, he made the startling discovery that the addition of chloramine disinfectant (a new and widely used replacement for chlorine) in tap water actually increased the incidence of lead leaching in residential and commercial aqueducts, in many cases above acceptable EPA limits. He went on to link several cases of lead poisoning, earlier thought to be caused by lead paint, to local tap water. His findings also revealed systemic weaknesses in the regional water testing program, prompting the Washington Area Water Authority to replace lead service lines throughout the district.
Now expanding his focus to other cities, he is defining new and more effective ways to test local water and predict the risk of chemical contamination in urban infrastructure. Through his exhaustive research efforts, Edwards is making critical contributions to the health of individuals and communities throughout the U.S. in an often-neglected area of domestic public safety.
He continues such volunteer efforts exposing government science-agency wrongdoing during what has become known by some as the Washington, DC, “Lead Crisis.” He has also developed new research interests at Virginia Tech, including ethics education and waterborne disease from pathogens in plumbing systems. His work on the “Lead Crisis” led to publication of a landmark paper documenting harm to D.C. children resulting from government agency negligence. That work triggered dozens of newspaper stories, congressional investigations, and hearings into Centers for Disease Control misconduct, and numerous awards, including an outstanding science paper in Environmental Science and Technology (2010), a Praxis Award in Professional Ethics from Villanova University (2010), and the first ever IEEE Barus Award to a university professor for “defending the public interest at great personal risk” (2013).
Edwards received a B.S. (1986) from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an M.S. (1988) and Ph.D. (1991) from the University of Washington in Seattle. Since 1997, he has been affiliated with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he is currently the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He taught previously at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Millar is an experienced civil engineer, planner, and program manager who is widely recognized for his innovative approaches to program development and delivery. Having worked in both the public and private sectors, he has a long track record of successfully delivering community-based solutions for state, regional, and local governments, making him an excellent fit for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s emphasis on continuous improvement, practical solutions, and community engagement.
He has an extensive background in transportation, land use, and community planning. He formally held positions as director of the City-County Office of Planning and Grants in Missoula, MT; deputy city manager for Infrastructure and Community Development in McCall, ID; manager of the City of Portland (OR) Arterial Street Improvements Division; vice-president of DMJM+Harris (now AECOM) and a private consulting firm in Fairfax, VA; and principal of Otak, Inc., managing land use, transportation and environmental planning, and engineering projects from offices in Lake Oswego, OR, and Carbondale, CO.
Millar earned his bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of Virginia. He is a licensed professional engineer in Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, and an ASCE Fellow. He also holds professional credentials from the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Association of State Floodplain Managers. He has received recognition and awards from numerous national, state, and professional organizations.
The ASCE President’s Medal recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of eminent engineers to the profession, the Society, or the public.