The US Society on Dams, in association with Kenneth D. Hansen, is pleased to announce the Kenneth D. Hansen Concrete Dam Paper Award. 

This award, which will be funded annually by Ken Hansen, will include a $10,000 prize for a paper focused on concrete dams, with the intent being to instill greater confidence for owners, engineers, and regulators in the benefits of innovative design and construction techniques of concrete dams. Ken identifies concrete dams as “First Class Dams,” meaning they do not erode when overtopped nor settle when shaken in a seismic event. 

Per Ken’s wishes, the focus of the papers should be on practical and innovative solutions that make concrete dams easier to design and construct. With this in mind, the prize is not intended to showcase advanced structural analyses, numerical analyses, or other similar analytical and/or computer-generated applications, means, and methods focused on concrete dams. The prize will be awarded annually at the US Society on Dams annual conference, with the first award presented at the 2024 USSD conference in Seattle, Washington in April. 

The following guidance for interested authors are provided by Ken and the US Society on Dams to help authors focus on areas of interest for the review committee. 

  • Papers will be reviewed, and decisions for the award recipient will be made, by a three person Ken Hansen Award Committee consisting of Del Shannon (chair), Michael Rogers and Larry Nuss. 
  • The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2024. Submission should be made electronically to Del Shannon ( 
  • Papers are to be submitted directly, independently, and specifically to the Hansen Award Committee and do not need to be first or simultaneously submitted through the USSD Concrete Dams Committee. 
  • Only completed papers will be considered for the award. 
  • Papers must not have been published previously. However, excerpts or portions of previously published papers may be included in the submitted papers if appropriately referenced. Well referenced papers are encouraged. 
  • Papers from the global engineering community are encouraged, however papers only written and published in English will be reviewed. 
  • Papers with more than two authors will not be considered, and membership in USSD is not a requirement for consideration. 

Per Ken’s direction, the basic premise for the papers should be topics that benefit, promote, advance, or improve concrete dams in any way. Topics related to the advantages of planning, design, construction, and actual performance, etc. are just some of the topics that will be considered for the award. Papers that are theoretical in nature or focus on complex numerical analyses will not be considered for the award. 

A single award of $10,000 for the selected paper will be awarded.

Commenting on why he decided to fund the new prize, Ken said: The simple answer to why I am offering this cash prize for the most outstanding paper on concrete dams is I felt I should, and I could afford it. The main purpose of the prize is to bring more awareness of the many positive aspects of concrete dams, that if considered would lead to more concrete dams being built. I feel most decisions on dam- type nowadays, are being made based solely on lowest estimated first-cost without consideration of all safety factors or by engineers who are only educated in the design of what I call second- class dams. They are missing the exhilaration of seeing their beautiful completed concrete dam for the first time. This assumes the site can accommodate more than one type of dam.

“The main reason I could fund this prize now is that my wife Millie and I raised two well- educated boys, Bruce and Scott, who are reasonably well off financially. They do not need my inheritance to any great degree. Thus, they have encouraged me to donate the interest from an investment to help establish my legacy as a proponent of concrete dams through this annual prize.”