Structural engineering pioneer receives rare recognition from American Concrete Institute

Published: Aug 14, 2023 10:00 AM

By Jeremy Henderson

Andy Nowak is going to need a bigger trophy case. 

The American Concrete Institute (ACI) Board of Direction recently awarded the chair of Auburn University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering both the Charles S. Whitney Medal and the Mete A. Sozen Award for Excellence in Structural Research.

The Charles S. Whitney Medal, given annually for noteworthy engineering development work in concrete design or construction, specifically honored Nowak's “significant contributions in the development of reliability-based code calibration procedures, development of resistance models for reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete structures, and development of load and load combination models for bridges and buildings.” 

Reliability procedures Nowak developed significantly enhanced the safety, structural integrity and economic efficiency of a wide variety of bridges and concrete buildings across the United States for more than two decades. His contributions inspired a new generation of structural design codes including the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) LRFD code for bridges and the American Concrete Institute (ACI) 318 code for concrete structures.

Nowak received the Mete A. Sozen Award for Excellence in Structural Research for his co-authored paper “Strength Reduction Factors for ACI 318 Strut-and-Tie Method for Deep Beams,” which was published in the March 2022 issue of the ACI Structural Journal.

"Both awards obviously reflect Dr. Nowak’s impact on his profession," said Auburn University Transportation Research Institute director Larry Rilett. "But the Charles S. Whitney Medal is especially an honor given that it's typically awarded to large university groups for collective achievements or to major structural engineering firms. It's really rare for an individual to win."

Of course, Nowak is no stranger to rare distinctions both in the U.S. and his native Poland. In 2017, he received an honorary doctorate from the Warsaw University of Technology. In 2022, he was inducted into the country's prestigious Academy of Engineering. His efforts to restructure the Polish engineering education system through recruitment and facilitating research partnerships between Polish and American universities also earned him one of Poland's highest honors — the prestigious Officer’s Order of Polonia Restituta.

"Dr. Nowak is a recognized pioneer in applied structural reliability, risk analysis and bridge engineering," said Dean of Engineering Mario Eden. "Having someone of his reputation and expertise helm our Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has been a great benefit for this college."

Both of Nowak's most recent accolades will be recognized in October at the ACI Fall 2023 Concrete Convention in Boston. 

"These honors are extremely humbling," Nowak said, "I'm very grateful that the opportunity to help steer one of the finest civil engineering departments in the country has put me in a position to make the sort of impact that our industry deems worthy of such recognition."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

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