William G Gahagan “2018 Lifetime  Achievement Award”
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William G Gahagan “2018 Lifetime Achievement Award”



Two true dredging professionals were recognized by the Western Dredging Association (WEDA) on June 28th, at its annual meeting in Norfolk, Virginia. Marcel Hermans, President and Chair of WEDA, presented the 2018 Annual Lifetime Achievement Award to William G. Gahagan and the 2018 Dredger of the Year Award to David E. Simonelli for their contributions to the dredging community and to the Western Dredging Association. 

William G. Gahagan, P.E. was honored with WEDA’s “2018 Lifetime Achievement Award” in recognition of his life’s work in the dredging industry, his dedication towards its advancement and his commitment to sound engineering and experience-based solutions.

Bill Gahagan has been a dedicated lifelong pioneer and leader in the dredging community. As an engineering graduate, he worked at Gahagan Dredging which was founded by his grandfather and was responsible for the dredging of the Apollo Launch Site in Florida, and Newark (NJ), Kennedy (NY), and Logan (Boston) Airports. Gahagan Dredging was known for its innovations in developing equipment and dredging techniques for difficult projects. After a sea change in the industry, Bill became a consultant to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock in 1972.

While working at Gahagan Dredging, Bill met J. Franklin “Frank” Bryant, a veteran of the dredging industry. Frank later started Bryant Engineering and was contacted by Bill in 1974 for a project at Jupiter Island, Florida – a project notable as the first use of a hydraulic cutterhead dredge working in the ocean to renourish a beach. This led to the formation of Gahagan & Bryant Associates, Inc. (GBA) in 1975. It also established a lifelong bond between the two men and a shared belief that to properly design a dredging program, the designing engineers must have “hands-on” field experience in performance of dredging contract work.

Following that philosophy, GBA has grown into the largest firm in the United States specializing in dredging and marine-related projects. Clients soon learned that GBA reports were concise, clear and well-focused. A GBA report states, “this is the issue, this is the solution,” and the solutions work. GBA employees are always encouraged to learn the industry and hone their capabilities in the field, collaborating with owner and contractor. 

GBA’s success was initially driven by Bill’s ability to provide sound, practical solutions to complicated projects. Once GBA was anchored as an established firm, Bill shifted his focus to mentorship. His dedication to the growth and development of engineers is unparalleled as is his honorable and selfless contribution to the dredging industry. Within GBA and throughout the dredging industry, many executives, engineers, surveyors, and consultants have been positively influenced, inspired and mentored by Bill.

Bill Gahagan has a long history of promoting WEDA and encouraging GBA employees to participate as members and conference presenters. In recognition of his outstanding support to the dredging industry and to the Western Dredging Association, WEDA has honored him with its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.

David E. Simonelli received the “2018 Annual Dredger of the Year Award” in recognition of his extensive and outstanding contributions to the dredging community and to the Western Dredging Association. His commitment to safe operations as a right and responsibility owed by each of us to ourselves and one another has been exemplary.

Dave, as his friends call him, has relentlessly pushed for dredging innovation and confidence in our ability to reach next-level performance. His active engagement has eased the suffering of those affected by shoreline disasters, and has positively impacted the personal lives and professional paths of more members of the WEDA community than can be named.

David E. Simonelli has been President of the Dredging Division at Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation since 2010 and is responsible for the Dredging Operations Group, which includes Estimating, Engineering, Operations, Plant and Equipment and Foreign Operations.

After earning a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Rhode Island, Dave joined Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company LLC in 1978 as a Field Engineer. Since then he has managed many of its large domestic and international projects, including serving as Special Projects Manager and Manager of Technical Operations since 1996. He was subsequently appointed Vice President in 2002. He served as the Chief Site Manager of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation since 2007 and Senior Vice President of Operations Support Group since February 2009. Dave was responsible for the Operations Support Group which includes Site Management, the Safety Health & Environmental Department, Field & Production Engineering and Risk Management.

He is a long-standing member of the Western Dredging Association, as well as of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Hydrographic Society.

WEDA affirms Dave as an outstanding dredging professional, with “mud in his blood and the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Bull’s Eye in his heart”.

 For further information contact: Thomas P. Cappellino, WEDA Executive Director (tcappellino@westerndredging.org) or Craig Vogt (craig@craigvogt.com).

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