ASCE has honored Steven A. Hughes, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, M.ASCE, with the 2020 John G. Moffatt–Frank E. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award for his numerous significant achievements and contributions to the coastal engineering profession throughout a most distinguished and dedicated career.
For more than 45 years, Hughes has made significant contributions to advancing harbor and coastal project design and construction through his prolific research, practice, and technology transfer efforts in the areas of coastal protection, wave theory, levee overtopping, and theoretical and physical modeling of associated topics.
As a research engineer at the USACE Coastal Engineering Research Center, Hughes’ keystone innovation came in the 1990s with his flow table initiative to provide a single, smaller-scale laboratory platform for physical model studies, which was a creative and compelling response to the increasing cost and declining interest in such studies. Other major accomplishments include authoring “Physical Modeling and Laboratory Techniques in Coastal Engineering”; coauthoring and editing Part VI of the USACE Coastal Engineering Manual, “Design of Coastal Project Elements”; and, following Hurricane Katrina, developing and performing experiments to greatly improve understanding of levee failure by overtopping, the results of which were used to define acceptable overtopping in levee designs applied post–Hurricane Katrina.
Since 2011, Hughes has continued his levee overtopping work at the full-scale Wave Overtopping Simulator Facility at Colorado State University, where he has developed levee erosion resiliency models, evaluated levee erosion protection components of vegetated armoring techniques, and provided guidance for levee resiliency with variable embankment soil types. In addition to his two books, Hughes authored or coauthored over 120 scientific reports and conference papers and 27 refereed journal articles. His methods have been adopted as standard practice throughout the world, and he lectures internationally as a Fulbright Specialist in Coastal Engineering.
The John G. Moffatt–Frank E. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award is given to a member of ASCE who has made definite contributions in the field of harbor and coastal engineering in the form of either written presentations or notable performance, and serves to recognize new ideas and concepts that can be efficiently implemented to expand the engineering or construction techniques available for the harbor and coastal projects.