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Each year during Engineers Week the prestigious Washington Award is conferred upon an engineer(s) whose professional attainments have preeminently advanced the welfare of human kind. Presentation of the award is made at a joint banquet of the members and guests of the Western Society of Engineers; the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Society of Mechanical Engineers; Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers; National Society of Professional Engineers; and the American Nuclear Society.

Click here for an invitation/registration form for this year's event.


Washington Award Commission

John W. Alvord, a past president of the Western Society of Engineers, in 1916 created an honorary award to recognize the “devoted, unselfish, and preeminent service in advancing human progress.” It was named the Washington Award as a reminder that the nation’s first president was an engineer. The elected commission of the award is made up of representatives from Western Society and six other engineering societies. It is conferred annually upon an engineer whose professional attainments have advanced the welfare of all peoples.

Previous Honorees


2003 Washington Award recipient Eugene Cernan.

The Washington Award is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious engineering awards in the country. The list of recipients speaks for itself. A few of the honorees from 1919-2007 include:

  • Herbert Hoover, 1919
  • Orville Wright, 1927
  • Charles F. Kettering, 1936
  • Henry Ford, 1944
  • Lillian Moller Gilbreth, 1954
  • H.G. Rickover, 1970
  • Dixy Lee Ray, 1978
  • Neil Armstrong, 1980
  • Stephen D. Bechtel, 1985
  • John H. Sununu, 1990
  • Wilson Greatbatch, 1996
  • Donna Lee Shirley, 2000
  • Dan Bricklin, 2001
  • Bob Frankston, 2001
  • Richard J. Robbins 2002
  • Eugene Cernan 2003
  • Nick Holonyak 2004
  • Robert S. Langer 2005
  • Henry Petroski 2006
  • Michael J. Birck 2007
  • Dean Kamen, 2008
  • Clyde Baker, 2009
  • Alvy Ray Smith, 2010

Administrator of Commission

The Western Society of Engineers, a multi-discipline engineering society serving engineers and firms that employ engineers in the Chicagoland area, administers the Washington Award. WSE was founded in 1869, when Chicago was the country’s western frontier.

The Western Society of Engineers is a multi-discipline engineering society, whose purpose is to actively encourage the development of engineering leaders and promote engineering excellence and innovation; educate the general public regarding the practice of engineering; recognize the achievements of the member engineers; and promote high professional and ethical standards.