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ASCE Innovation Contest Winners

Friday, July 22, 2016

The first ASCE Innovation Contest drew entries from around the world, with practitioners, project managers, educators, researchers, and students attracted to the challenge of developing and submitting their most creative and innovative ideas for reshaping infrastructure. From dozens of submissions, a judges panel of 22 experts from across the civil engineering industry named 15 winners. 

Of the 15 selected winners, 2 innovative ideas are within the COPRI disciplines. 

  • Greatest Impact on Achieving the Grand Challenge:  "Rise of the Drones: How Unmanned Surveying Can Help Make Our Coasts Resilient" by Jason Matthew Magalen, P.E., M.ASCE, HDR Engineering Inc., Beaverton, OR
  • Overall Winner Best New Concept: " Big Picture Resilience via Ocean Forests ," by ASCE Los Angeles Section Sustainability Committee, Alhambra, CA, Jason Zhang, P.E., A.M.ASCE, Mark Capron, P.E., M.ASCE, Jim Stewart, Ph.D.

Resilient Coasts

COPRI Member, Jason Magalen's submittal, "Rise of the Drones: How Unmanned Surveying Can Help Make Our Coasts Resilient," investigated ways to use small unmanned aerial vehicles to collect data about coastlines.  Magalen and other winners of the contest's Internet of Things category attended Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, CA, the home of all design and development for Disney parks and attractions around the world. 

"With the advancement of technology in the form of drones and small UAVs it just seems to make a lot of sense," he said. "The accuracy is improved. The economy is improved. You can collect more data, more frequently, for less money."

Magalen's drone proposal proved to be the top-honored innovation in the contest. It received the Overall Winner award for Greatest Impact in Achieving the ASCE Grand Challenge, the Best Value Award in the contest's Resilience category, and the Most Efficient Award at the Disney event.

Ocean Forests

The ocean forests idea may be the largest in scope - seeking to grow seaweed over 5 percent of the world's ocean surface in hopes of eliminating the planet's potential food shortage, solving its atmospheric and ocean carbon dioxide crisis, and replacing total global oil and gas demand.

"It's just plain essential," said Capron, who began in 2006 to develop the idea that large-scale digesters using seaweed forests in the ocean could be a game-changer for the planet.

"What kind of world do I want to leave? I have one grandchild and another on the way. This ocean forest thing is not all or nothing. It's a 'can't miss.' 

The 2016 Innovation Contest was a first for ASCE, part of the Society's Grand Challenge strategic initiative to seek ways to reduce infrastructure life-cycle costs. The Green Engineering event - sponsored by KCI Technologies - was the first of four events celebrating the category winners.