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      Sustainable, Climate-Resilient Floating Landscape Infrastructure Earns Top Prize at ASCE Innovation Contest

      July 28, 2019

      Reston, Va. - In its fourth Innovation Contest, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recognized three winning teams for their future-focused solutions. Among the winning ideas was Emerald Tutu, which provides a floating waterfront landscape infrastructure while mitigating the effects of climate change. The Emerald Tutu won the Overall Grand Challenge Award, taking home a cash prize of $2,000. 

      The contest is part of ASCE's Grand Challenge initiative to enhance U.S. infrastructure's performance over its entire life span as a way to close the nation's infrastructure investment gap. In the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card , ASCE graded U.S. infrastructure a "D+" and estimated the investment gap to be $2 trillion between 2016 and 2025. The contest is a springboard for forward-looking infrastructure ideas and aims to identify cutting-edge ideas from civil engineers, including students, educators, practitioners and project managers.

      From a diverse group of submissions, Innovation Contest judges, led by Mike McCullough, P.E., former vice president, Environmental Design and Engineering, Walt Disney Imagineering, selected three overall-award recipients. Innovation Contest honorees shared their innovations with industry leaders and competed onsite for the first time for $2,000 cash prizes for the Overall Grand Challenge Award and the Best Entrepreneur Award. The competition and celebration ceremony took place at ASCE headquarters in Reston, Va. on June 26 and 27. 

      The overall winners are:

      Overall Grand Challenge Award : "Emerald Tutu" by Gabrial Cira, architect, Very Flat; Julia Hopkins, Ph.D., Research Scientist, TU Delft; and Nick Lutsko, Ph.D., Research Scientist, MIT. A floating landscape infrastructure, the Emerald Tutu mitigates the effects of climate change while providing a city with an inhabitable waterfront amenity. 

      Best Entrepreneur Award : "Smart Walls: Telescopic Structural Walls for Flood Protection" by Jorge Cueto, Ph.D., chief technology officer, Smart Walls Construction. Smart Walls are deployable walls that are hidden in the ground and extend telescopically only when needed to stop the floodwaters. 

      Best Student Submission Winner : "Rapid Restoration of Deteriorated Prestressed Concrete Bridges Using Mechanically Fastened Fiber Reinforced Polymer" by Brad C. McCoy, Ph.D., P.E., Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army; Rudolf Seracino, Ph.D., professor and associate head of department, North Carolina State University; and Gregory W. Lucier, Ph.D., research assistant professor, North Carolina State University. This project presents a methodology to rapidly address deteriorated prestressed concrete bridge superstructure, extends the useful life of infrastructure at a low cost and can be installed in just a few hours using common tools. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is already using this as a test study on a bridge in the state.  

      ASCE's Industry Leaders Council debuted the Innovation Contest in 2016. Learn more about the Grand Challenge and this year's contest winners at


      Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation's infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information,   or and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.