Engineers of Merit

The Engineer of Merit award is awarded to an individual who have substantially contributed to the status of the civil engineering profession by:

  1. A distinguished career in any branch of civil engineering;
  2. Distinguished service to the Inland Empire Section;
  3. Exemplary professional conduct in a specific outstanding instance;
  4. An established reputation for professional service;
  5. Objective and lasting achievement in improving conditions under which professional engineers serve in public and private practice;
  6. Significant contribution toward improvement of employment conditions among civil engineers;
  7. Significant contributions toward improving the professional aspects of civil engineering education;
  8. Professional guidance of qualified young persons who would seek civil engineering as a career; and professional development of young civil engineers in the formative stages of their careers; or
  9. Other evidence of merit which, in the judgement of the award committee, shall have advanced the Society’s professional objectives; and
  10. Who is a current member in-good-standing of ASCE.


Chronology of Merit

Year Name Location Year Name Location
2018 Kevin Chang Coeur d'Alene 1987 Howard Pettibone Spokane
2017 Sandra Anthony Spokane 1986 Wilho E Williams Spokane
2016 Randy LaBeff Spokane 1985 Robert S Turner Spokane
2015 Gary Nelson Spokane 1984 William P. Ilgen Spokane
2014 Alan Gay Spokane 1983 James G. Fuller Spokane
2013 No Awardee Spokane 1982 John F. Osborne Pullman
2012 Richard Koch Spokane 1981 Jesse E Buchanan Coeur d'Alene
2011 Krista Brown Spokane 1980 Larry A. Esvelt Spokane
2010 John Finnegan Spokane 1979 Richard A. Saty Spokane
2009 David McLean Pullman 1978 Frederick J. Watts Moscow
2008 Don Phelps Chelan 1977 Gilbert W. Gray Post Falls
2007 Lars Hendron Spokane 1976 Daniel V. Neal Spokane
2006 Doug Busko Spokane 1975 Roger H. Nelson Pullman
2005 Darold Orgill Spokane 1974 Loren B. Almy Pullman
2004 David Kliewer Spokane 1973 John A. Swanson Spokane
2003 James Correll Spokane 1972 Richard A. Busch Spokane
2002 Virgina Darrell Spokane 1971 Kenneth P. Norris Spokane
2001 Kim Zentz   1970 James A. Sewell Newport
2000 Mike Taylor Spokane 1969 G.A. Riedesel Pullman
1999 Bob Turner Spokane 1968 Gilbert Dunstan Pullman
1998 Howard Copp   1967 Glen A. Yake Spokane
1997 Max Patterson Spokane 1966 Leon D. Luck Pullman
1996 Bruce Rawls Spokane 1965 Rodger James Spokane
1995 Cecil Hathaway   1964 Allen S. Janssen Moscow
1994 Dave Larsen Spokane 1963 John Esvelt Spokane
1993 Ken Carper   1962 J. Bryon Barber Spokane
1992 F.C. (Bud) Budenger Spokane 1961 L. Vaughn Downs Downs Ephrata
1991 Chuck Prussack Spokane 1960 Charles L. Barker Pullman
1990 Don Bender   1959 W.L. Maloney Spokane
1989 Rafik Y. Itani Pullman 1958 Thomas H. Judd Spokane
1988 John A. Roberson Pullman      


































Distinguished Career Awards

Craig Lee – Distinguished Career 2017

Craig Lee, S.E. LEED AP, is Structural Principal Advisor of Coffman Engineers and longtime Spokane, Washington native. Craig developed an enthusiasm for engineering at a young age as he passed long stretches of road construction along Interstate-90 on family vacations to Montana. Years later, in 1968, Craig earned his B.S. in civil engineering down the road at Washington State University.

Upon graduation, Craig began his engineering career working at Shell Oil Company before going back to Washington State University in 1975 to earn his M.S. degree in civil engineering. From 1975 -1995 he worked for a few different structural engineering firms including Atwood Hinzman, Donald N. Petersen, and Peden Petersen & Lee (PPL). Craig has an exceptional engineering talent and is a respected leader amongst his peers. As a consequence, in 1995 when PPL was acquired by Coffman Engineers, he was asked by Dave Coffman, founder of Coffman Engineers, to help open and manage the new Spokane office of Coffman/PPL. Craig provided office leadership for the ensuing 12 years, during which he taught and mentored many young engineers, including some that hold senior leadership roles in the company today.

Craig began his retirement from Coffman in 2013 but continues to work on projects and share his expert advice. He began his forensic work in 1981 by inspecting and analyzing the cause of a grain silo collapse in Othello, Washington and since, has performed over 100 forensic investigations. These include roof collapses, pre-engineered steel building collapses, concrete and steel silo collapses, fire damage assessment, seismic damage assessments and other miscellaneous structural failures associated with construction activities. His knowledge and expertise has led him to work with many insurance companies and attorneys and he has testified numerous times in mediations, arbitrations and trials related to structural failures.

Some of his most notable projects include: the Red Dog Mine Coarse Ore Storage Facility (which is north of Kotzebue, Alaska); analysis of multiple structure failures due to the Nisqually Earthquake of
2001; Spokane River Park Square; and numerous projects for Kaiser Aluminum.
Although it has been said that Craig sees the world in stress points, he doesn’t spend all his time engineering. Craig spent 25 years on the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol and serves on multiple leadership boards including: the Red Cross Inland Empire Region Board; the Honor Point Military & Aerospace Museum Board; and the Mt. Spokane Ski Area Advisory Board. Wherever he goes, Craig is teaching and learning as much as he can. His advice for young engineers: “Stay curious.”

"What could possibly go wrong?" Jim Harakas – Distinguished Career 2016

Jim Harakas, PE, LG, LEG, Senior Geotechnical Principal Born in Chicago, Illinois, Jim was drafted to the US Army in 1969. Following his service, he graduated from Michigan State with his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. Jim then headed west and attended the University of Washington where he earned his master of science in civil engineering, specializing in geotechnical engineering.

He passed his Washington PE exam in 1979. He is a registered professional engineer in six states and licensed engineering geologist in Washington State. His career started as a geotechnical engineer at Dames and Moore, where he stayed for 14 years (1974-1988). In 1988, he joined Applied Geotechnology (AGI) now CDM for three years. Jim joined GeoEngineers in 1991 to open the Spokane office and guided the successful acquisition of Gifford Consultants in 1999. His first trip to Spokane was for the 1974 World's Fair. Ironically, he ends his successful career working on the redevelopment of Riverfront Park, where the fair was hosted.

In September 2015, Jim Harakas retired as a Senior Principal from GeoEngineers after 24 outstanding years. His accomplishments and devotion to the engineering profession benefitted the staff and clients he worked with and mentored. Jim was involved in various capacities on over 3,400 projects while at GeoEngineers, and served on GeoEngineers' board of directors for 11 of his 24 years. Over his career, he also served on multiple boards as a director, including ACEC Washington, ASCE Spokane Board, ASCE Seattle and AGI.

Some of his notable projects include: Monroe Street Bridge Rehabilitation, Spokane County Water Reclamation Facility, and Multiple Buildings on Gonzaga, Eastern and WSU Spokane campus. Despite the fact that Jim is a husky at heart, all of the WSU buildings he worked on are still standing.

When asked, Jim shared that his biggest career accomplishments included opening and building up the Spokane GeoEngineers office and helping build the AGI team from 25 staff to 100 staff in his short three-year stint.

His advice for his colleagues and the future workforce: "When in doubt, go by the book." - Jim Harakas

Howard Peavy – Distinguished Career 2015

Howard Peavy PE has received our sections distinguished career award in 2015.  His selection was overwhelming, if not unanimous, based on his long record of service to the engineering profession; including training a vast of engineering graduates from Montana State University and the University of

Idaho. He was born on a small farm in Mississippi. He received his Bachelor of Science and Civil Engineering degree from Louisiana State University, Masters of Science and Environmental Engineering from Duke and a PhD from the University of Oklahoma.
He started working at the Oklahoma Dept. of Pollution Control and began the chief engineer in the
1970s all while completing his doctoral dissertation. He taught at Montana State University from 1974 to 1993 and he was the director of the environmental engineering program from 1984 to 1993.  He was the chair of the department of civil engineering at the University of Idaho from 1993 to 1998 and rose to the level of associate dean of the college of engineering from 1998 to 2010.

He is a professional licensed engineer in OK, MT and ID and he serves on the ASCE Board. His professional involvements have included the National Institute of Water Resources Research as a board member and president and he served as president of the Montana Pollution Control Association. He
co-authored an environmental engineering text, published by McGraw-Hill in 1984.

He was selected to Engineering honors societies including Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon. He married Janet in 1996.  They have 6 kids and an extended family including 8 grandkids. He retired in 2010 but continues to help the college of engineering at the University of Idaho, contributes to Habitat for Humanity and the Moscow Rotary Club.

Larry Esvelt – Distinguished Career 2011

Larry Esvelt PE was born on October 19, 1938 in Spokane, WA to Howard and Clara Esvelt, and grew up the eldest of six brothers, on his family farm outside of Daisy, WA. After receiving his degree with honors in Civil Engineering from Washington State University, he married Sherry Kay Maize in 1962.

Larry went on to UC Berkeley for his Masters and PhD, and in 1976 he opened his own firm, Esvelt Environmental Engineering. His work in environmental engineering took him first around the Pacific Northwest and eventually around the world, designing, consulting and accrediting.

Larry was a devoted member of his church and an active supporter of his community as well as a tireless member of numerous professional organizations. He was a golden glove boxer, an avid pilot, and a superb skier. He will always be remembered for his integrity, generosity and leadership.