Noble Honored With OPAL Award in Design

Ronald M. Noble, P.E., L.S., D.CE, D.PE, D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE, president and senior principal engineer of Noble Consultants–G.E.C. Inc., and former director of two major ASCE organizations, has been honored by ASCE as the 2020 Outstanding Projects And Leaders award winner in design.

The ASCE OPAL awards honor outstanding civil engineering leaders for their lifetime accomplishments. This year’s OPAL winners will be recognized at the 2020 OPAL Gala, March 13, in Arlington, VA.

Noble does not come lately to his civil engineering eminence. In the early 1970s his participation was requested for development of national and international siting standards for nuclear power plants. Noble was Chairman of the working group for  the original development followed by its two updated revisions of ANSI/ANS-2.8-1992, “Determining Design Basis Flooding at Power Reactor Sites,” and in 1977 he was appointed by the U.S. government as the nation’s expert representative on an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) committee that developed the same kind of standard for plants at overseas coastal sites.

The scope of his responsibilities widened with his experience with marinas, piers, beach nourishments and stabilization, navigational improvements, seawalls, groins, levees, channel stabilization structures and wetland restorations. FEMA, the Pacific Coast, Hurricane Katrina – just a few of the calls he would answer. In all these areas his innovation secured not only project success, but also the admiration and esteem of colleagues who have had one eye on his career for all of its  50 years.

But many know Noble as a visible leader within ASCE itself. He is past president of the Board of Governors for COPRI, the Society’s semiautonomous Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute, where many are given the opportunity to work alongside the field’s elite. He is also past president of the Board of Trustees for ACOPNE, the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port & Navigation Engineers, where the expertise of so many is affirmed through Civil Engineering Certification Inc. Others will know him from his vice-chairing of ASCE’s Coastal Engineering Research Council (CERC).

headshot of Noble

Noble has brought his stabilizing quality of civil engineering design to bear in over 35 countries and nearly every coastal state, but remains today the head of Noble Consultants in California, recently acquired by Baton Rouge’s GEC Inc., with the name staying the same. The firm’s work continues to span a broad range of coastal, estuarine, and riverine environments. Noble himself was on the team that reconnoitered in the wake of the Great East Tsunami, in Japan, and has written extensively about the investigation.

In addition, he codeveloped one of the first comprehensive numerical computer models to calculate hurricane storm surge, and has prepared and presented technical short courses and seminars in the field of coastal engineering. In the 1980s he presided over a firm that created software programs and user manuals for wave runup and generation.

Among a bounty of recognitions are ASCE’s International Coastal Engineering Award (2008) and John G. Moffatt–Frank E. Nichol Harbor & Coastal Engineering Award (2009). Noble was also the 2012 recipient of the ASBPA Morrough P. O’Brien Award and the inaugural recipient of the Services to the ACOPNE Award (2019).

He is an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley.

See the other 2020 OPAL award winners.


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