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Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award

Nomination Deadline: June 1st

ASCE annually recognizes an exemplary civil engineering project as the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement. Established in 1960, this prestigious award honors the project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. Honoring an overall project rather than an individual, the award celebrates the contributions of many engineers.

2021 OCEA Honor Awards

These nine projects were selected for excellence. On October 8, 2021, two runners-up and the OCEA winner will be chosen from among the Honor Awards, during the ASCE Convention in Chicago, IL.  

Read on CE Source

  • A Moving Mud Spring Threatens Critical Infrastructure, Imperial County, California
  • Chase Center at Thrive City, San Francisco, California
  • Coastal Wall at the Northwestern University Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center, Evanston, Illinois
  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Westchester and Rockland counties, New York
  • Lake Mead Intake No. 3 Low Lake Level Pumping Station & Discharge Aqueduct, Boulder City, Nevada
  • Metro North Railroad Bridge Over Atlantic Street, Stamford, Connecticut
  • Moscone Convention Center Expansion, San Francisco, California
  • Niagara Falls State Park Transformation Initiative, Niagara Falls, New York
  • Permanent Canal Closures and Pumps (PCCP), New Orleans, Louisiana

Award Presentation

In addition to the OPAL trophy, the national OCEA award consists of a permanently displayed bronze plaque supplied by ASCE. The plaque is presented to the owner of the project in a ceremony coordinated by the local ASCE Region, Section or Branch in which the project is located. The Region, Section or Branch should coordinate the ceremony with the OCEA Coordinator in ASCE's Media Relations Department. The Region, Section of Branch should invite the ASCE President and other ASCE leaders as appropriate. Additional bronze plaques may be ordered through the ASCE Media Relations Department. These plaques will be invoiced to the individual(s) ordering the plaques.

Learn more & Attend OPAL Gala

General Information

ASCE annually recognizes an exemplary civil engineering project as the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement. Established in 1960, this prestigious award honors the project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. Honoring an overall project rather than an individual, the award recognizes the contributions of many engineers.  

The Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement is awarded an OPAL award at the annual OPAL awards ceremony. All OCEA finalists chosen by the OCEA jury receive Honor award trophies at the awards ceremony. ASCE's Civil Engineering Source announces the OCEA finalists and later issues include coverage of the OPAL awards ceremony and announces the winner of the winner of the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award. ASCE also promotes the projects through press releases to the civil engineering press and the general media.  

Entries may be submitted by the individual firms or agencies involved in the projects. Region, Section or Branch project of the year winners are expected to be entered by Region, Section or Branch presidents. To be considered by the jury entries must meet the eligibility and entry requirements.  

Entries must be submitted electronically to the Honors and Awards Program office, awards@asce.org, by June 1 of the year of award. Projects must meet the eligibility criteria listed below at the time of submission of the entry.

The OCEA award program is coordinated through the Honors and Awards program. Entry kits are available online or via e-mail to awards@asce.org.


Rules

Eligibility

Any civil engineering project is eligible. There are no restrictions as to locale - a project may be domestic or international - but it must meet at least one of the requirements listed below.

  1. Bridges, tunnels, waterways, railways, roads (other than toll): eligible only when carrying traffic; the time of final completion or dedication is not important.
  2. Toll or similar regional roads:  any portion in use is eligible.  The entire road is eligible when carrying traffic.  the entire road is eligible when it is 75-percent operational.  Regional roads are defined as not Federal or State/Provincial roads.
  3. Water supply, flood control dams:  eligible when ready to take the full design head of water.
  4. Power dams: eligible when the major civil engineering construction is completed and the structure can take its design head of water. 
  5. Power plants: eligible when power is generated and delivered.
  6. Buildings, other structures and facilities:  eligible when ready for use (certificate of occupancy has been obtained where applicable).  
  7. Airports and other similar large developments: eligible when initial phase is 75-percent operational.  Individual structures or features (such as major buildings or runways) are eligible when operational, but will be considered separately from the entire project. 
  8. Water supply, water treatment, and waste disposal:  the entire project is eligible when it is 50-percent operational in its initial phase.  Any completed component is eligible, but will be considered separately from the entire project.
  9. Port, coastal, ocean, and wetlands projects and offshore structures:  eligible when complete. 
  10. Military projects (such as bases, launching units, and harbor facilities): eligible when initial phase is 75-percent operational.  Individual structures or features (such as major buildings or runways) are eligible when operational, but will be considered separately from the entire project.

Eligibility of projects not categorized above will be determined by the jury.  If a project wins an OCEA award, it or any of its components may not be re-nominated in a later year. 

Judging Criteria

The jury will consider entries on the basis of the following general criteria:

Originality and Innovation

  • New or Innovative Application of Technology, Design, Materials, Process/Methods and Construction

Resourcefulness in Planning and Solving Design Challenges

  • Complexity of the Problem or Situation Addressed
  • Creativity in  Solutions

Sustainability and Resiliency Considerations

  • Environmental
  • Social
  • Economic

Project Planning and Delivery

  • Financing, Budget and Schedule
  • Meeting the Client's Needs
  • Budget and Schedule Adherence
  • Contributions to the Well-being of People and Communities, Including Aesthetic Value

Entry Format

All entries must be in English and should include the following in this order:

  1. Completed entry form
  2. Brief description of project, not to exceed 250 words
  3. Summary describing how project meets judging criteria, not to exceed 1,000 words.
  4. Attachments such as articles from newspapers, magazines or journals, if available.  If non-English articles are presented, their translation must be provided.  
  5. No more than six color images of the project.

Preparation Guidelines

Entries must address each criterion and should identify unusual aspects of the project.  Describe key challenges and solutions and new technology used.  Consider all phases of the project, including the plan, design, construction, operation, and maintenance.  The project's environmental, political, economic, social, and legal aspects may also be significant.

Present most technical information in lay terms.  OCEA jury members have diverse backgrounds in civil engineering.  The engineers and design professionals on the jury may have expertise in structures, for example, but not in environmental engineering.  Entries will also be read by general media reporters who cover such civil engineering issues as transportation or the environment but who may not have engineering backgrounds. 

Judging and Notification Procedures

Judging is by a volunteer jury.  The Jury shall be comprised of the Past President, the most recent President Emeritus who shall chair the Jury, six (6) members appointed by the Technical Region Board of Governors and the Editor-in-Chief of Civil Engineering magazine.  Members of the Jury shall serve two-year overlapping terms; three members appointed by the Technical Region Board of Governors shall be replaced each year.  The Jury shall meet in person and shall recommend a list of finalists and the OCEA recipient to the Executive Committee for approval.  The Executive Committee shall approve the recommendations of the jury or, in the case of extraordinary circumstances, the Executive Committee shall refer the recommendations back to the jury for further deliberation. 

The Honors and Awards Program office will forward all entries received by the competition deadline to members of the OCEA jury

Following the Executive Committee's approval of the jury's selection of finalists, the Society's Executive Director will notify the finalists. The jury's selection of the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award, Silver and Bronze winners will not be disclosed until the OPAL awards event.  Projects selected for presentation at the Annual Convention are publicized as Honor Awards.   

Honors Awards may be asked to provide materials for production of a short video of their project.  

Award Presentation

In addition to the OPAL trophy, the national OCEA award consists of a permanently displayed bronze plaque supplied by ASCE.  The plaque is presented to the owner of the project in a ceremony coordinated by the local ASCE Region, Section or Branch in which the project is located.  The Region, Section or Branch should coordinate the ceremony with the OCEA Coordinator in the ASCE Media Relations Department.  The Region, Section or Branch should invite the ASCE President and other ASCE leaders as appropriate.  Additional bronze plaques may be ordered through the ASCE Media Relations Department.  These plaques will be invoiced to the individual(s) ordering the plaques.  


Please use the OCEA nomination form to submit a project for consideration.

Download OCEA Nomination Form

Award Recipients

2020 OCEA Winner
Bayonne Bridge: Replacement of Main Span Roadway and Approach Structures

2020 Silver Award
Salesforce Tower

2020 Bronze Award
Queensferry Crossing

2020 Honor Award
Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program

2020 Honor Award
Marc Basnight Bridge

All Recipients