Moving ENR’s Award of Excellence celebration to an online platform this year allowed us to reimagine what was possible in this format. Though we were of course disappointed that we couldn’t see everyone in person at our New York City gala as ENR has for the past 54 years, going virtual did have its advantages. 

In place of our in-person Top 25 Newsmakers luncheon, we decided to forgo the traditional acceptance speeches and allow attendees to absorb some of the insight and expertise that led us to recognize these individuals in the first place.

And so a week of video webinars was born: five different meetings of the minds on topics including creating a stronger workforce, building innovation, optimizing project delivery, preventing failures and boosting sustainability. An Award of Excellence winner joined several Newsmakers in each of the ENR editor-led webinars.

You can watch all of the webinars on demand and for free at Look for the Top 25 Newsmakers tag in the webinar name.

The celebration of excellence also highlighted ENR’s 20 national Best of the Best Projects winners, selected as the pinnacle of design and construction of the past year. Winners accepted their awards virtually, some from the project sites that won.

Just as attendees had at past events, viewers learned about this year’s AOE winner, Cris Liban, through a compelling video about his life, work ethic and influences, and then from an impassioned speech he delivered from his California home, wearing a traditional Philippine barong tagalog, just as he had planned to wear in person at the scuttled April event. Both the video and speech can be viewed on demand at

In his speech, Cris implores us to rethink how infrastructure is developed, built and maintained to confront how climate change and other factors threaten our society. Engineering codes, standards and practices need to alter to accommodate our changing world. These paradigm shifts must be conducted in ways that help to reduce social tensions and inequality, and yet are still cost effective, he says.

“Love what you build and appreciate the legacy it leaves for future generations,” he said at the conclusion. “But most of all, have fun in this life. We only have one, so make the best use of it—for this industry and for the communities that infrastructure serves while least impacting our planet and bringing prosperity and access to all.”