On April 8th, I had the privilege of attending Engineering News-Record's 45th annual noon luncheon and evening dinner honoring 25 top newsmakers selected by the magazine's editors.

The newsmakers were each selected by ENR's editorial staff for making a contribution that will have long-lasting positive impact on the engineering, architecture, and construction industries.

Their contributions ranged from negotiating innovative labor agreements that helped revitalize New York City's construction industry, to building a program to help attract school-aged kids to construction careers, to bringing down buildings safely, introducing a new way of cleaning up hazardous waste, to inventing an safe and efficient Web-based way for contractors to make bank draws and lien waivers.

The accomplishments are all awe-inspiring.

The highest honor, the Award of Excellence, went to John Hillman, an engineer and inventor who designed a new strong-yet-lightweight type of structural beam that combines the best of concrete, steel, and composites, and that weighs 1/10th as much a concrete beam.

You can see all of the newsmakers and John Hillman's inspiring acceptance speech at www.enr.com.

Of this year's newsmakers, at least five came from Midwest Construction's coverage area.

Mike Betz led the Caterpillar engineering team in Peoria, Ill., that developed the world's first mass-produced diesel-electric bulldozer, the D7E.

Ray Mangrum is leading the innovative riverbed PCB cleanup that combines digital mapping, precision dredging, and just-in-time processing to save $100 million while cleaning up the Fox River in Green Bay, Wis.

Jason Oglesbee hung heroically from a crane's load line above a raging river in Iowa to save the life of a woman trapped in the churning white water.

Don Rasmussen led the design-build team that conceived and executed the innovative reconstruction of a highway through the middle of St. Louis.

And John Hillman, a bridge engineer in Chicago, invented a new kind of structural beam (as mentioned above) that may revolutionize the way bridges and other structures are built.

Visit www.ENR.com to see the newsmakers event.

Detailed stories about each of the 25 newsmakers' accomplishments are in the January 18th edition of ENR. To see it on line, go to www.enr.com, click on archives, and scroll to the January 18th edition.

Check them out.