Tips for Hosting a Successful ASCE Awards Banquet – Part 1

Each year, the Truckee Meadows Branch of ASCE hosts an Annual Awards and Student Recognition Banquet which has turned into a very successful and well-attended event.  Here I have summarized how we have built this event into one of our most well-attended events for the local civil engineering community.

Event Program

There’s nothing worse than staying at an awards banquet for more than three hours.  It gets mundane and people want to go home and go to be once 9:00 pm strikes.  We try to plan the program very carefully (down to the minute) so we can keep everything moving as planned.  I have linked to a copy of a banquet program to show the order of events and the timing that we use.  Every event will be different and it’s important to add or eliminate things while keeping the event under three hours.

You can download a copy of the Banquet Program from the 2016 awards banquet.

Timing

We used to hold this event as a luncheon in April and hosted a separate event called “Student Night” where students networked with professionals.  We decided to combine these into a single event to encourage more participation from students and professionals.  We now hold the event in March and format our award submissions in the national format.  The local award winners are submitted through the Nevada Section for national level awards.  We start our banquet at 5:30 pm and try to end no later than 9:00 pm.  It leaves little room for error, so it’s important to have an emcee who can keep things moving on time.

Venue

It’s important to scout out venues and book the location early! Every event will be different and it may take a while to get this one right. We have the students bring the previous year’s concrete canoe to the event. This means that we need space for displaying the canoe and a way to get the canoe into the room.  Many of the casinos in town have banquet rooms on the second floor so it can be tricky to get the 22 ft-long canoe up a long set of stairs or into a conventional elevator.  This is one of the main drivers for the selection of our venue.

ASCE Dinner 2013-19
We host our banquets at local casinos because they have plenty of room (Photo credit: Lee Pfalmer)

Awards

We hand out “Project of the Year” awards in three categories: Structural/Geotechnical, Environmental, and Transportation.  We don’t get a huge amount of applicants for each category, but additional awards could be added if you have more applications.  We also hand out awards for “Engineer of the Year” and “Young Engineer of the Year.” The award applications we use are linked below.  We ask the Southern Nevada Branch to evaluate the awards to ensure there are no biases in the judging process.

You can download Project of the Year Nomination Form, the Engineer of the Year Nomination Form, and the Student Scholarship Application.

Further Reading

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