ASCE Recognizes Outstanding Projects and Leaders and Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievements


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The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) announced its 2021 recipients of the Society’s Outstanding Projects and Leadership (OPAL) awards, which recognize lifetime achievement in each of five categories: construction, design, education, government and management. These individuals have furthered the civil engineering profession and improved local communities by contributing to thriving local economies and superb educational influence.

The Society also announced nine recipients of its 2021 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award nominations, which recognize exemplary civil engineering projects throughout the country. The award honors projects which exemplify state-of-the-art engineering skill and provide considerable contributions to local and regional communities, in addition to advancements of the civil engineering profession.  A winner and two runners-up will be chosen during the Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Gala on Oct. 8, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois. OPAL Award winners will also be recognized at the gala.

“These civil engineering leaders and projects represent the best of the engineering community and American excellence,” said Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., President, ASCE. “Our OPAL recipients are an inspiration to the next generation of engineers, and our OCEA nominees exhibit the possibilities when leadership, skill and a drive for excellence are merged into one. Congratulations to all for receiving these honors.”

The 2021 OPAL leadership award recipients are as follows:

  • Construction – Jesus M. de la Garza, Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE, NAC is a professor and chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University and has been selected for innovation and excellence in construction of civil engineering projects and programs. He is widely recognized as a leading educator in project control and construction management, and more recently in construction safety. His work has led to increased understanding of the fundamental issues within project controls and with jobsite safety incidents. This knowledge provides a foundation for future research and education for improved project performance.
  • Design – James L. Barnard, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, Dist.M.ASCE is a global project and technology leader for Black and Veatch Consulting Engineers and has been selected for innovation and excellence in civil engineering design. Barnard has been recognized worldwide as playing a key role in preserving the environment. His introduction of biological nutrient removal (BNR) has contributed tremendously to the protection and conservation of water resources for present and future generations. His passion for more environmentally friendly solutions and willingness to share information through papers, lectures, studies and conferences has led to the implementation of this technology worldwide, which exemplifies further his dedication to preserving the environment.
  • Education – Vijay P. Singh, Ph.D., D.Sc., P.E., Hon.D.AWRE, F.ERI, Dist.M.ACSE is a distinguished Professor, a Regents Professor and Caroline & William N. Lehrer Distinguished Chair in Water Engineering at Texas A&M University and has been selected for demonstrating excellence in furthering civil engineering education, particularly in the hydrologic and hydraulic engineering field. These contributions are seen in his several books, handbooks and over 1,340 refereed publications. He has made exceptional contributions to advance civil engineering through designing and teaching new innovative courses, mentoring numerous graduate students and is recognized as one of the top 1% of cited researchers in his field. He has also founded a school in his native village in India that offers primary, secondary and higher education.
  • Government – Sreenivas Alampalli, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE recently retired as director of the Structure Management Bureau at the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and has been selected for demonstrated leadership of public sector projects and programs. Alampalli is a leader in bridge asset management, which has proved essential for statewide structural preservation, safety and performance measures. He also facilitated the movement of NYSDOT from state-specific inspection program to the AASHTO-element national system, which allows the agency to better manage assets. Alampalli is passionate about bridging the gap between state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice and has built successful collaborations with industry, academia, professional organizations, and government agencies in technology transfer efforts.
  • Management – Terry F. Neimeyer, P.E., ENV SP, BCEE, F.ASCE is chairman of the board for KCI and has been selected for exceptional management skills in his professional career. Neimeyer has led award-winning projects that have improved the sustainability and resilience of many environmentally sensitive areas. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), serving as its chair.

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The 2021 OCEA nominees are as follows:

  • A Moving Mud Spring Threatens Critical Infrastructure (Imperial County, CA) – After a “mud spring” near the southern end of the San Andreas Fault began moving rapidly to carve out a 75-foot-wide channel in 2016, Shannon and Wilson created mitigation measures to protect nearby Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) tracks. The group contained the mud spring with a sheet pile wall for four months, allowing enough time for UPRR to construct a track on the far side of the main tracks and construct relief wells to depressurize the mud spring.
  • Chase Center (San Francisco, CA) – The newly constructed Chase Center, an entertainment arena and home to the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) Golden State Warriors, has modernized the concept of an arena through innovative designs. The Magnusson Klemecnic Associates (MKA) project built the 18,000-seat NBA arena and office and retail complex with seismic resilience in mind, designing below-grade levels to “float” like a boat in case of seismic activity.
  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (New York, NY) – The new 3.1-mile twin span bridges crossing the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties replaces the old Tappan Zee Bridge. The new structure features extra-wide shoulders, emergency/bus lanes, and is prepared to support future commuter or light rail. The project is one of the largest single design-build transportation structures in the United States.
  • Lake Mead Intake No. 3 Low Lake Level Pumping Station and Discharge Aqueducts Project (Boulder City, NV) – The decades-long drought in the Colorado River Basin has threatened Lake Mead, which now currently only holds 38% of its 26-million-acre-foot capacity. To avoid water service disruptions to the 2.2 million-person Southern Nevada community, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) completed the Low Lake Level Pumping Station to improve accessibility and long-term reliability.
  • Metro North Railroad Bridge Over Atlantic Street (Stamford, CT) – The Stamford, CT bridge replacement in a densely populated New York City suburb required the replacement of aging railroad infrastructure while maintaining train service for 350 trains per day, serving over 125,000 daily commuters. The Connecticut Department of Transportation managed to complete the five (and potential six) track project without unplanned commuter disruptions.
  • Moscone Center Expansion and Improvement (San Francisco, CA) – The renovated Moscone Convention Center uses transparent and translucent materials to bring natural light to interior public spaces to, serving as an artistic draw for future conventions and events. Housing sprawling exhibit spaces and an elegant ballroom, the Moscone Center renovation utilizes seismic restraint throughout the facility to keep visitors and projects safe.
  • Niagara Falls State Park Transformation Initiative (Niagara Falls, NY) – After years of disrepair, T.Y. Lin International (TYLI) and the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation coordinated more than 16 interconnected projects across more than 400 acres to enhance the park. The groups improved behind the scenes utility, mechanical and stormwater infrastructure in addition to public-facing attractions, buildings, lighting and pedestrian/traffic routes. The park managed to stay open throughout the entire improvement process.
  • Northwestern University, Coastal Wall at Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center (Evanston, IL) – Located directly on the coastline, Northwestern’s Athletics Center, designed by SmithGroup, integrated a double recurved coastal wall that mitigates wave energy and redirects it back to the lake. As many parts of Michigan’s shoreline are dealing with erosion, the Athletics Center’s innovative coastal wall will keep the facility protected against severe weather events. 
  • Permanent Canal Closures and Pumps (PCCP) Project (New Orleans, LA) – In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in coordination with project designer Stantec, developed a long-term flood damage risk reduction system to mitigate damages from 100-year storms. The project improves water drainage, acts a flood barrier for storm surges, and is used as a power station that can keep power running for five days.

For more information on ASCE’s OPAL leadership awards and OCEA honor award recipients, go to https://www.asce.org/opal-awards/ (OPAL) or https://www.asce.org/oceakit/ (OCEA).

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