Cutting-Edge Technologies in Environmental Engineering Earn 2009 Federal Engineer Of The Year Award

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Stacey A. Ober
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kirankumar Topudurti, Ph.D., P.E., the deputy director of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Ill., has been named the National Society of Professional Engineers's 2009 Federal Engineer of the Year. Topudurti received the honor during the 30th Annual FEYA Banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on February 19, 2009.

Of the 91,000 individuals identified by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics as federally employed engineers, only 23 were nominated and only one of 10 finalists was selected for the award. It is a crowning achievement for the award winner and the federal agency or military branch the engineer represents.
"Dr. Topudurti exemplifies the public service engineer because he works to surpass all expectations placed on him and goes above and beyond to win the respect of our customers," said Ilker Adiguzel, Ph.D., the director of the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. "And because he expects so much from himself, as his supervisor, he really keeps me on my toes!"
Topudurti's contributions to environmental engineering are nationally and internationally recognized. His accomplishments have advanced over 20 innovative hazardous waste treatment, sampling, and measurement technologies implemented at over 100 hazardous waste sites, and he currently provides leadership in the development and execution of a $100 million research and development program. An example of his work is the use of high-voltage electron beam (e-beam) technology for treating toxic organics contaminated groundwater. E-beam technology exposes contaminated water to a stream of high-energy electrons. Within milliseconds of impact, the electrons slow down, lose energy, and react with water to form three primary reactive species that destroy organic contaminants.
Another of Topudurti's accomplishments is in field measurement technologies for total petroleum hydrocarbons in soil. Petroleum hydrocarbon contamination is caused by "oil spills" at petroleum refineries, service stations, and petroleum transport vessels. His research critically evaluated seven technologies, providing engineers with the right tools for characterizing thousands of contaminated sites and aiding rapid, cost-effective cleanup. 
As a result of his exemplary service and contributions to his profession, Topudurti has received many prestigious awards including the Superior Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Army in 2008, Government Engineer of the Year by the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers, and the Excellence in Environmental Engineering Grand Prize (Research) from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. He has authored 38 refereed publications and presented over 50 national and international conference papers. Topudurti has served as environmental technology delegate to Russia and Ukraine and has served as a member of the Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board.
Topudurti has also excelled academically, achieving his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in India, his master's degree in civil/environmental engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, and his doctorate in environmental engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He is a fellow in the American Institute of Chemists, a diplomate in the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, and a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is also active in giving back to his homeland, cosponsoring a low-income family high school in Hyderabad, India, and serving as a member of the India Development Coalition of America. In addition, he is a coordinator with the North South Foundation, an organization that promotes educational excellence in the U.S. and India.
A panel of judges established by NSPE's Professional Engineers in Government selects the FEYA winner. Hailing from various federal agencies, departments, and military branches, the nominated engineers are evaluated based on factors such as engineering achievements, education, professional and technical society activities, awards and honors, and civic and humanitarian activities.  
For more information about the program or how to submit nominations for 2010, contact Marcia Prichard at or visit the FEYA Web page at:

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The National Society of Professional Engineers is the national society of licensed professional engineers from all disciplines that promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members. Founded in 1934, NSPE serves more than 43,000 members and the public through 53 state and territorial societies and more than 500 chapters. For more information, please visit

EDITOR'S NOTE: Digital photos of the award winner, the ceremony, and additional award winners are currently available. Please contact Stacey Ober at 703-684-2815,, or at 301-254-6888 after business hours.