Subsurface Utility Engineering Pioneer Named Distinguished Member


James H. Anspach, PG, Dist.M.ASCE, considered a principal founder of the profession of subsurface utility engineering and, subsequently, utility engineering, has been honored with inclusion in ASCE’s 2018 class of Distinguished Members for his exemplary 38-year career as researcher, educator, and practitioner.

Anspach has worked for the benefit of the public and the engineering profession by fostering a dynamic evolution of the industry for standard-of-care issues for utility accommodation practices during project design utility damage prevention and the practice of subsurface utility engineering, on both of which he is a recognized authority. He devoted 25 years to So-Deep, headquartered in Manassas, VA, in the research, development, and application of surface geophysical techniques for the purpose of utility identification and detection, and risk registration and mitigation. Currently, he is a global senior principal at Cardo Inc.

He has served as project manager or principal for thousands of utility mapping or coordination projects, including mega-projects (the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, ASCE’s 2008 OCEA winner, and Alaska Way Viaduct); classified projects for the White House, CIA, Pentagon, and State Department; and infrastructure projects for the Departments of Transportation of numerous U.S. states, Rhode Island, Virginia, New York, Ohio, and Texas among them. He has also served in the same capacity for nuclear and conventional power plants, water and wastewater facilities, airports, and ports and industrial plants.

Anspach was a workshop moderator for the ASCE Pipelines Conference in 2010 and 2014. He was keynote speaker at the 2015 MAPPS Conference, the 2009 International Conference on Construction Research Funding, and the 1994 NTSB Workshop on Damage Prevention. As well, he is a frequent lecturer on utility issues at colleges and universities throughout the nation – Purdue, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, etc. – interacting with students to ensure their engagement in the field. He has also published some 40+ peer-reviewed articles and reports, and well over 100 technical papers.

He helped establish the ASCE Construction Institute’s Codes and Standards Council that developed CI/ASCE 38-02, and routinely serves on national and international committees involving utility detection, mapping, damage prevention, and standards. His activities with ASCE are extensive; to name a few, Construction Standards Council chair (1998-present), Codes & Standards Committee chair, Board Committee for Technical Advancement charter member, EJCDC Engineering Committee delegate, and ASCE XX (Utility “As-Builts” Standard) member and CI-CSC oversight.

Anspach holds several citations from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Other awards include the 2010 and 2014 FIATECH CETI Innovation Awards; the 2012 Virginia Tech ICTAS Water Infrastructure Center of Excellence Awards Program, Utility Engineering category; and the FHWA’s 2009 Excellence in Utility Relocation and Accommodations Awards Program, Leadership category.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in geologic sciences from Pennsylvania State University in 1977 (geology, geophysics, geochemistry options). He has a professional geologist registration in Virginia (retired) and additional PG registrations in Pennsylvania and Tennessee (both retired).


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