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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2009 / 01 

Mike Duncan to receive national education award in civil engineering

January 8, 2009

J. Michael Duncan
J. Michael Duncan

University Distinguished Professor Emeritus J. Michael Duncan, of Virginia Tech's Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will receive the 2009 Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Lifetime Achievement Award for Education from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) on April 23.

Each year ASCE awards five OPAL lifetime achievement awards, one each in the categories of construction, design, education, government, and management. “For Mike to be selected as the one recipient across all nominees in the education category is truly an outstanding accomplishment and fine recognition of the many achievements Mike has had throughout his career,” said William Knocke, civil and environmental engineering department head.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1984, Duncan has made substantial contributions to the discipline of geotechnical engineering through his work in areas of soil shear strength and slope stability, seepage through soils, embankment dam engineering, and finite element analysis methods for soil structures. He served as a consultant on several major geotechnical projects such as the Panama Canal and the levee and flood-control structure failures associated with Hurricane Katrina.

For his work, Duncan has received several prominent awards including his election to the National Academic of Engineering. He is Distinguished Member of the ASCE. He has received three Outstanding Faculty Awards at the University of California, Berkeley, the George Westinghouse national teaching award from the American Society for Engineering Education, four College of Engineering Teaching Excellence Awards at Virginia Tech, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Teaching Excellence Award in 2002.

He presented the Laurits Bjerrum Memorial Lecture in 1991, the Terzaghi Lecture in 1991, the Jack Hilf Memorial Lecture in 1997, the Arthur Casagrande Memorial Lecture in 1998, the George Sowers Memorial Lecture in 1999, the Spencer J. Buchanan Lecture in 1999, the Mueser-Rutledge Lecture in 2000, the Cullen Distinguished Lecture at the University of Houston in 2002, the Stanley Wilson Lecture in 2003, and the Kenneth L. Lee Memorial Lecture in 2004.

He has been awarded the Collingwood Prize, the Huber Research Prize, the Middlebrooks Award (in 1980, 1987, and 2003), the Wellington Prize, the State-of-the-Art Award, and the Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award from ASCE, was named the Outstanding Engineering Educator in Virginia in 1994, and the Terzaghi Award from ASCE in 2003. In 2007 he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by the Department of the Army for his work investigating failures of floodwalls and levees in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 H. Bolton Seed Medal from ASCE, and was awarded foreign honorary membership in the Japanese Geotechnical Society in 2008.

Duncan received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Georgia Tech, and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Duncan's lifetime achievement award will be presented at the OPAL/OCEA Awards dinner in Washington D.C., on April 23rd.