The awards went to individuals, but the honor seemed to go to something bigger, something shared.
The 2016 ASCE Outstanding Projects And Leaders Awards Gala showcased the best of civil engineering, March 17 in Arlington, VA. As the honorees regularly mentioned the family and collaboration and the altruistic nature of the work, it became clear that the profession as a whole was being celebrated.
“We do have a noble profession. We do good things. We make a world a better place,” said Rudy Bonaparte, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, NAE, in accepting his OPAL Award for Design Award.
“I’m proud to a part of that profession with all of you and our flagship organization, the American Society of Civil Engineers.”
Richard Morales, M.Sc., P.E., F.ASCE, director of engineering construction products for LB Foster in Suwanee, GA, was honored at the Gala as a new Fellow: “As engineers we do so many amazing things that help society, helping the general public. The OPAL Gala really highlights a lot of our great accomplishments as an engineering profession. These are the greats in attendance, so I’m humbled to be here.”
Lifetimes of Achievement
The OPAL Awards honor outstanding leaders whose lifetime accomplishments have contributed to civil engineering in one of five categories – construction, design, education, government, or management.
This year’s class included:
- Design – Rudolph Bonaparte, president, CEO, and senior principal for Geosyntec Consultants in Atlanta; leader in the design and performance evaluation of waste-containment systems for all types of solid-waste landfills
- Government – Jerry DiMaggio, P.E., D.GE, M.ASCE, is a principal engineer at Applied Research Associates Inc. for the research and technology deployment group, following a career that has spanned five decades featuring many specification-setting highway geotechnical contributions
- Education – Dan Frangopol, Sc.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.EMI, Dist.M.ASCE, the first Fazlur R. Khan Endowed Chair of Structural Engineering and Architecture at Lehigh University, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado at Boulder; leader in the development of life-cycle civil engineering
- Management – George Pierson, Esq., P.E., M.ASCE, president of the Pierson Advisory Group, following seven years as president and CEO of Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc.; under his leadership, Parsons Brinckerhoff employed approximately 14,000 professionals in 150 offices on five continents and had annual revenues of $2.7 billion
- Construction – Christopher Traylor, M.ASCE, co-president of Traylor Bros. Inc., a third-generation company and one of the leading heavy civil contractors in the nation
The award presentation of the night with the most suspense was the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award. The Dragon Bridge in Da Nang, Vietnam, was announced as the 2016 honoree among five other finalists. The OCEA annually recognizes an exemplary civil engineering project.
The Dragon Bridge links the city of Da Nang across the Han River to the country’s developing eastern shores, nearby beach resorts, and a route to the town of Hoi An. And its dragon-shaped design has made the bridge an instant tourist attraction and symbol of the city.
“We’re thrilled to win this award,” Ammann & Whitney CEO and President Nick Ivanoff told the Gala audience. “We certainly want to commend all of the finalists as well as all of the individuals who received wonderful honors today.”
Kornel Kerenyi, Ph.D., M.ASCE, received the Henry L. Michel Award for Industry Advancement of Research.
Kerenyi is the hydraulics research program and laboratory manager for the Federal Highway Administration, earned the Henry L. Michel Award for Industry Advancement of Research. He deflected the honors to his research partners.
“I am the beneficiary of a world-class team and hydraulics staff,” Kerenyi told the Gala crowd.
The Charles Pankow Award for Innovation honored the seismic design methodology for precast concrete diaphragms.
The research project involved collaboration between engineers at the University of Arizona, Lehigh University, and the University of California, San Diego, along with industry groups to produce a methodology that has changed codes in ASCE 7-16.
Roger Becker, managing director of research and development at Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, accepted the award for the team: “This project would not be complete without excellent collaboration between academia and industry.”
Mike Lindblom had one of the best lines of the night. “I’m not a real engineer; I just pretend to be one in the newspaper,” he told the crowd in accepting his ASCE Excellence in Journalism Award.
Lindblom, a transportation reporter for the Seattle Times, wrote a comprehensive series about the construction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Tunnel, which included several stories about the Bertha tunnel-boring machine.
The future of the profession showed itself in the form of the New Faces of Civil Engineering, recently selected by ASCE, in attendance.
Ariful Hasnat, Aff.M.ASCE, a senior lecturer in civil engineering at the University of Asia Pacific, came all the way from Bangladesh – 24 hours in a plane – to be at the OPAL Gala. He was able to see the White House and the Lincoln Memorial and also plans to look at several colleges for potential doctorate studies.
He is the first person from Bangladesh to be honored as a New Face of Civil Engineering.
“I feel I am representing my country,” Hasnat said. “In our country we have many problems with infrastructure. Maybe in some way I can contribute to fixing those.”
Katrina Myers, P.E., CFM, M.ASCE, did not have nearly as long a trip as Hasnat (she flew in from Denver), but she missed the opening of an Engineers Without Borders conference to meet her fellow New Faces at the Gala. She was OK with the tradeoff.
“It’s been really humbling and awesome,” said Myers, a project engineer with EWB-USA. “I enjoyed learning about the individuals and projects being recognized tonight. It was amazing to meet so many leaders of our industry and hear their stories about collaboration and competition within the framework of mentorship and friendship. But, the most amazing aspect of the evening was how kind and encouraging all of these icons of the field were to the young engineers just beginning to find our way in the field.”