Engineers Demonstrate Viability of Drone Technology to Monitor Beach Erosion

Washington, DC (February 23, 2017) – McKim & Creed has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 50th annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for performing a proof-of-concept study on the use of drones to monitor beach erosion.

ACEC is the Washington-D.C.-based business association of the engineering industry representing more than 5,000 independent engineering firms throughout the United States.

Conducted in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., for ESRI, a Redlands, Calif.-based provider of geographic information systems software and applications, the study was designed to determine if drones can provide coastal communities with a faster, more cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly way to monitor hurricane-related beach erosion. Test flights were conducted over approximately 100 acres of sensitive, erosion-prone coastline, with engineers comparing the drone’s high-tech imaging with data gathered from conventional survey methods.

The project team concluded that in the correct environmental conditions (e.g., open beaches or moderately vegetated berms and basins), the use of drones can cut municipalities’ data collection costs by as much as 60 percent. Drones required fewer people, offered greater safety to crews, provided higher accuracy data, produced a faster deliverable, and did not disturb bird nesting or other coastal wildlife habitats.

The project is among 162 engineering achievements from throughout the nation and the world being recognized by ACEC as the year’s finest examples of engineering excellence, and eligible for additional top national honors. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”– took place in February, conducted by a national 30-member panel of built environment leaders, along with experts from government, the media and academia. Award criteria focuses on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top commendations— 20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement—will take place at the annual EEA Dinner and Gala, a black-tie event to be held Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

About ACEC
The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the business association of America’s engineering industry, representing more than 5,000 independent engineering firms and more than 500,000 professionals throughout the United States engaged in the development of America’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, along with environmental, industrial and other public and private facilities. Founded in 1909 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 51 state and regional organizations.