University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


Cullen Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering Honored by ASCE


Amanda Strassner, Public Relations Intern
Cullen Distinguished Professor and Director National Geotechnical Experimental Station
Cullen Distinguished Professor and Director National Geotechnical Experimental Station

Michael W. O'Neill, Cullen Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, has been informed by the American Society of Civil Engineers that he will be the recipient of the Martin S. Kapp Award this November at the organization's annual conference in Nashville.

This national ASCE award is given not more often than annually to "an individual on the basis of the best example of innovative or outstanding design or construction of foundations, earthworks, retaining structures or underground construction. Emphasis is placed on constructed works in which serious difficulties were overcome or substantial economies were achieved."

"This is a special honor for me," says O'Neill. "I am now in a way personally connected to the World Trade Center disaster."

This connection is partly due in part to the fact that O'Neill was scheduled to give the Martin S. Kapp Lecture to the New York Metropolitan Section of the ASCE in 2001. However, the lecture schedule was set back by the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001. "Many of the officers of that ASCE Section were involved in the World Trade Center disaster management," O'Neill remembers.

Making the connection even stronger, O'Neill's award is in memory of Martin S Kapp, a geotechnical engineer who was the Chief Engineer responsible for managing the design and construction of the World Trade Center in the early 1970s. The Port Authority established the Kapp Award in memoriam after Kapp died of a heart attack before he actually saw that project completed.

O'Neill, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, has 40 years of experience in applied research and consulting in deep foundations, soil properties, engineering design and field testing of foundation systems. He has won numerous honors and awards, including being named the 1998 Karl Terzaghi Lecturer for the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was only the fifth university professor to receive a Distinguished Service Award (2002) from the Deep Foundations Institute in that award's 22-year history.

In addition, O'Neill has published more than 200 papers and peer-reviewed reports on foundations and soil mechanics since 1964. He is the co-author of a reference book on foundations for vibrating machines and the current Federal Highway Administration manual on drilled shafts.



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