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Recognizing the human face of engineering



The José Entrecanales Ibarra Foundation presented its International Civil Engineering and Development Cooperation Awards to the US engineer Leslie E. Robertson and the Water Solidarity project of Firefighters Without Borders.

The Civil Engineering and Development Cooperation Awards, which are made every three years by the José Entrecanales Ibarra Foundation, constitute an international benchmark in the field of engineering and fundamentally aim to position this specialty as a discipline that directly influences the development of society and wellbeing.

Leslie E. Robertson, distinguished in the Civil Engineering category, has stood out throughout his long career for innovations in the design of skyscraper structures and as a pioneer in the use of computer applications in these buildings. For the Development Cooperation award, created to shine light on the more human face of engineering and communicate the role of this area in social progress, the jury decided to present it to the Water Solidarity project of Firefighters Without Borders, which built a system to purify and supply drinking water to a community of former oil workers in an under-developed region of Peruvian Amazonia.


International reference

In previous editions of the award, two legends of the profession internationally were honored in Guiseppe Lombardi (whose biggest works include hydroelectric power stations and dams in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Mexico and Ecuador) and Jörg Schlaich, whose highlights include important works such as the monument remembering the victims of the 3/11 terrorist attack in Madrid, Spain. In the Development Cooperation category, the organization Practical Action was recognized for its project connecting 24 isolated villages in Nepal; NGO International Rescue for building water infrastructure in Ethiopia, and; the association Farm Workers for Human Development for their light vehicle bridge in El Salvador.


Leslie E. Robertson

This US engineer has spent over 60 years innovating in the design of structures for skyscrapers across the world, becoming a pioneer in incorporating computer design into the buildings. Robertson has also stood out for his bridge, dome and long-span roof projects, as well as the technical contribution he has made which has transformed engineering and set the standard for the present generation of professionals.

Robertson is the architect behind the structural design of hundreds of constructions throughout the world, from New York’s Twin Towers to buildings such as the Shanghai World Financial Center, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Pittsburgh headquarters of US Steel, as well as several museums in Berlin and the Miho Museum Bridge in Japan. In Spain, his best known designs are the Picasso Tower and the Puerta de Europa Towers.



The Foundation recognized the Water Solidarity project sponsored by the NGO, Firefighters Without Borders (BUSF), for organizing access to drinking water for 40,000 people in the Peruvian Amazon. The project included the installation of permanent drinking water purification plants and home networks, supply to difficultly accessed locations and mobile healthcare services, particularly to treat malaria, from which a large number of the population suffers. The project was launched in 2004 with the building of the Delfines plant and has meant: improved living conditions and longer life expectancies, and the growth of the project with new sites and technical proposals that permit cost optimization.

Firefighters Without Borders (BUSF) has worked since 1996 as an NGO focused on Latin America and is made up of firefighters and professionals from different services connected to firefighting and rescue, as well as collaborators and professionals from other sectors.



The esteemed José Entrecanales Ibarra (Bilbao 1899-Madrid 1990) dedicated a large part of his life to teaching and academic life.

He began his professional career in Bilbao, later returning to the Madrid Civil Engineeering School as assistant professor in port engineering. He later joined the Professorship of Foundations and Stonework Bridges, of which he went on to become Chair. For 28 years, he taught many of the great engineers to come out of Spain and is author of an extensive collection of Department Chair Notes on ground engineering that even today place him as the man who introduced Geotechnics to Spain. He was made Honorary Professor and in 1983 received the Member of Honor Medal. In parallel, he developed a successful business activity, which in 1931 saw him form, alongside Manuel Távora Barrera, the construction firm Entrecanales y Távora, which they managed according to the principles of technical excellence.

His entrepreneurial project continues to expand to this day under the name of ACCIONA.

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