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.
2020 OCEA Honor Awards
These ten projects were selected for excellence. On March 13, 2020, two runners-up and the OCEA winner will be chosen from among the Honor Awards, during the
Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Gala
in Washington, DC.
- Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, Seattle, WA
- Bayonne Bridge: Replacement of Main Span Roadway and Approach Structures, Bayonne, NJ - Staten Island, NY
- Marc Basnight Bridge, Outer Banks, NC
- Olmsted Locks and Dam, Olmsted, IL
- Queensferry Crossing, Edinburgh & Fife, Scotland
- Salesforce Tower, San Francisco, CA
- Spillways, Oroville Emergency Recovery, Oroville, CA
- The Big Lift - Macdonald Bridge Superstructure Replacement, Halifax, Nova Scotia
- West Vancouver Freight Access, Vancouver, WA
- Zoo Core and Adjacent Arterials Interchange, Milwaukee, WI
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
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 of the OCEA finalists chosen by the OCEA jury receive merit award trophies at the OPAL awards ceremony.
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 trade 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. In order 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,
by June 1 of the year of award.
The OCEA award program is coordinated through the Honors and Awards program.
are available online or via e-mail to
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.
- Bridges, tunnels, waterways, railways, roads (other than toll): eligible only when carrying traffic; the time of final completion or dedication is not important.
- Toll or similar regional roads: any portion in use is eligible. The entire road is eligible when it is 75-percent operational.
- Water supply, flood control dams: eligible when ready to take the full design head of water.
- Power dams: eligible when the major civil engineering construction is completed and the structure can take its design head of water.
- Power plants: eligible when power is generated and delivered.
- Buildings and structures: eligible when ready for use (certificate of occupancy has been obtained where applicable).
- 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.
- 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.
- Port, coastal, ocean, and wetlands projects and offshore structures: eligible when complete.
- 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 renominated in a later year.
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
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
All entries must be in English and should include the following in this order:
- Completed entry form
- Brief description of project, not to exceed 250 words
- At least six color photographs of projects. (More photos/slides are encouraged. Include attribution if necessary as ASCE may use photos for publicity purposes.)
- Summary describing how project meets judging criteria, not to exceed 1,000 words.
- Attachments such as articles from newspapers, magazines or journals, if available. If non-English articles are presented, their translation must be provided.
Entries must address each criteria 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
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 secretary of the jury will notify the finalists. The jury's selection of the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement is not disclosed until the OPAL awards dinner in April. The project is designated a "finalist" as are the projects selected as merit winners.
All finalists will be asked to provide materials for production of a short video of their project, segments of which will be shown during the OPAL dinner.