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07 July 2010

Ultimate accolade for Mott MacDonald’s Alan Powderham

Mott MacDonald director, Alan Powderham has been awarded the 2010 Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Sustained Achievement Award. This highly prestigious honour for long-term achievement is the ultimate accolade for a British engineer and is a testament to Alan’s influence on civil engineering over the last four decades.

The Sustained Achievement Award, presented to Alan on 5 July 2010 at a special reception in London, acknowledges an engineer whose endeavours have had a profound impact upon engineering. Alan has brought engineering excellence to numerous projects and set new industry benchmarks in foundation engineering. He has been described as a modern day Brunel and his solutions as dramatic and even adventurous. Central to Alan’s approach is safety, value and a teamwork ethos. His success in using safety as a driver for innovation draws on his zeal in relating design to construction and overcoming perceived constraints to progress in a widely risky but risk-averse industry.

He has pioneered the combination of the observational method (OM) and value engineering, stimulating a renaissance in OM during the construction of the Channel Tunnel. This was followed by projects such as the Limehouse Link (cited as the UK’s prime example of value engineering in civil engineering in the early 1990s), the Heathrow Express rail link cofferdam (the largest ever constructed in the UK) and the Boston Central Artery jacked tunnel project (the biggest of its kind in the world and praised by the US Department of Transportation as a bold and challenging endeavour that has proven to be an engineering marvel).

Alan also constantly seeks to share knowledge and experience, enhancing the link between academia and industry. He has been lecturing internationally for 20 years, is a visiting professor at Imperial College and initiates and supports research through MSc dissertations, PhDs and engineering doctorates. He is a prolific author of technical papers and articles, writing 50 over the last 20 years.

His nomination for the award was supported by Professor John Burland of Imperial College and Professor Robert Mair of Cambridge University. Commenting on Alan’s development of OM and value engineering techniques, Professor Burland stated that his “very significant contributions to both of these approaches will guide the profession for many years to come.”

Peter Wickens, Mott MacDonald’s Chairman said, “Alan demonstrates the highest standards of professional excellence and I am delighted to congratulate him on winning this prestigious award, it follows the Champion of the Decade award which he received in 2006. We are very proud and inspired by Alan, he is a true asset to our business both professionally and personally.”

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