WASHINGTON, D.C. — Erdman Anthony of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is a finalist in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 45th annual Engineering Excellence Awards competition for its survey of the Gwynedd Cut railway gorge near North Wales, Pa.

Erdman Anthony utilized innovative terrestrial laser scanning as part of a project to assess the stability of the 25-foot wide, 3,500-foot-long cut, which has served as a rail corridor for more than 150 years. The technology enabled the project team to safely collect data while trains were running, and accurately delineate the steep, irregular rock faces and overhead high-voltage structure — a task that would be highly difficult and time-consuming using conventional surveying techniques.

The ability of laser scanning to capture a wealth of detail minimizes the involvement of the engineering team, saving both cost and time. The resulting high-accuracy 3D image can be rotated and viewed from any perspective, providing users with a tool for monitoring the gorge’s condition and planning preventive maintenance and repair operations.

The project is among 161 engineering projects from throughout the nation recognized by ACEC as preeminent engineering achievements for 2010. Judging for the Engineering Excellence Awards — known as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry” — took place in February, conducted by a panel of more than 30 engineers, architects, government representatives, media members, and academics. Criteria for awards include uniqueness and originality, technical, social, and economic value, complexity, and success of the projects in meeting goals.

All winners, including 16 Honor Awards, eight Grand Awards, and the “Grand Conceptor Award” for best overall engineering achievement, will be recognized at the Engineering Excellence Awards Gala, to be held Friday, April 1, 2011, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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