Engineering firm awarded for high-flying survey

An engineering and design firm has earned national recognition for a project in which it used an unmanned aerial system to survey a trail near Fruita.

Olsson Associates was among the winners of National Recognition Awards presented by the American Council of Engineering Companies. A business association, the ACEC represents more than 5,000 engineering firms and 325,000 professionals from across the country.

The ACEC recognized 151 projects, all of which are now eligible for the top national honors — known as the Academy awards of the engineering industry — that will be presented at black tie dinner event scheduled for April 19 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

A panel of more than 30 judges that included engineers, architects, government officials and academics evaluated the projects, considering such criteria as complexity, social and economic value, technical innovation, uniqueness and success in achieving goals.

Olsson Associates — a firm that operates a total of 28 offices in eight states, including an office in Grand Junction — won the award for its aerial survey of 5-mile section of the Kokopelli Trail Fruita officials hope to integrate into a trail network to promote tourism.

Photographs and other data were used to develop a variety of survey and mapping products. A three-dimensional point cloud allows users to manipulate features in considering various strategies.

The City of Fruita used the products to apply for grants to fund the trail connection work as well as other economic development initiatives related to outdoor recreation.

Olsson Associates was looking for pilot projects for its unmanned aerial systems services. The firm is among the first in Colorado to earn an exemption under federal regulations for commercial operations. Those operations include surveying, but also inspections and photography.