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Columbia Medal

Nomination Deadline: November 1st

The establishment of the Columbia Medal was initiated in 1982 by the Aerospace Division (ASD) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to commemorate the first earth orbital flight of the United States Space-Shuttle Orbiter, Columbia, which opened a new technological era for mankind through the peaceful utilization of space. The medal also honors the astronauts who perished in the tragic demise of the Columbia on February 1, 2003.  The Columbia Medal is an endowed award and is presented in accordance with the following criteria and rules:


  1. Members of the Society, except Student Members, are eligible for nomination.
  2. The award is granted for sustained outstanding contribution to the advancement of aerospace engineering, sciences and technology in at least one of the following areas: teaching, research, design, development, planning, construction, management, or direct participation in space-borne missions and/or ground-support activities.
  3. Any of these contributions may be in the form of: notable performance relating to the conception, planning, and/or execution of an important project related to the mission of the Division; long years of distinguished service in private academic, industrial and/or Government sectors; or other specific actions which have served to advance the practice of civil engineering through the application of aerospace engineering, sciences and technology. A nominee's history of publications may be considered in evaluating whether or not a candidate fulfills the criteria.
  4. One award will be granted in even-numbered years unless the achievement upon which the award is based is considered to be the joint contribution by more than one individual who meets the eligibility criteria for the award. In the latter case, duplicate or multiple awards will be tendered, if permitted by the current award fund balance. The award will not be presented when, in the opinion of the Aerospace Division Awards Committee, a suitable candidate cannot be found.
  5. The qualifications of eligible nominees will be reviewed by the Aerospace Division Awards Committee, which shall submit recommendations to the Aerospace Division Executive Committee for approval, which shall present its recommendation to the ASCE Executive Committee for final action.
  6. The award items are a certificate, medal and a cash prize determined annually by and subject to the approval of the Executive Committee of the ASCE Board of Direction based on the income from the award endowment.
  7. The Columbia Medal will be presented at the ASCE's Annual Convention or at the Aerospace Division's Conference.

To nominate, submit the following:

  • A cover letter, signed by the nominator
  • An Official Award Nomination form
  • The nominee's CV or biographical information
  • Two or three letters of recommendation (max)

You can submit your nomination electronically to [email protected], or by mail to:

ASCE Honors and Awards
1801 Alexander Bell Drive
Reston, VA 20191

Award Recipients

Brent Sherwood, A.M.ASCE

Elon Musk, A.M.ASCE

Paul D. Spudis, Ph.D., Aff.M.ASCE

Donald R. Pettit, Ph.D., Aff.M. SCE

William Whittaker, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE

All Recipients