Phelps Recognized with the Highest Honor from KU Engineering Dept.

Harold Phelps, president of Phelps Engineering and 2017 president of the HBA, was honored with the Distinguished Engineering Service Award (DESA) for his achievements in the field of engineering by the University of Kansas at a ceremony at the Kansas Union on May 3. Phelps, along with fellow alumnus Robert Jensen, were recognized for their “outstanding contributions to engineering and their dedication to the profession.”

The award honors KU engineering alumni or engineers who have maintained a close association with the university for outstanding contributions to the profession of engineering and to society. The Distinguished Engineering Service Award is the highest honor bestowed by the School of Engineering. Awards are made on the basis of an individual’s contribution to the theories and practices of engineering, research and development in new fields of engineering, or direction of an organization that has made exceptional contributions in design, production and development.

Phelps’ distinguished career includes being the Principal-in-Charge for the Tomahawk Creek Watershed Study in Johnson County, Kan. Harold helped innovate and develop the original project approach thereby creating the framework by which all other Stormwater Management Advisory Council (SMAC) watershed studies were contracted by the City of Overland Park and the Johnson County Public Works departments.

To achieve this goal, Harold and his team created new ways of utilizing the GIS data from the Johnson County AIMS system to develop base mapping, database management and GIS services. Phelps Engineering, Inc. used the latest Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology to establish Johnson County’s countywide, horizontal and vertical ground control network. HEC-I, HEC-RAS and SWMMM models were used by the hydrology and hydraulic teams to establish what has been considered the most accurate hydrologic and hydraulic results in the industry at the time.

Besides running his own company, Harold is very active in the community and serves as the Chair of the University of Kansas, Civil Engineering and Architectural Engineering Department Advisory Board.

In 2006, he established the Ernest Pogge Scholarship Fund in honor of the late civil engineering professor emeritus, Ernest Pogge. This scholarship assists nontraditional students with financial need in civil engineering and is awarded to those interested in water resources and hydrology. As of 2017, 18 civil engineering students have benefited from this fund. Phelps also supported renovations of the concrete and water resources labs, and other improvements in the CEAE department. He is also a member of the Deans Club Premiere Society, signifying lifetime giving to KU Engineering that exceeds $100,000.

Phelps is a member of the American Public Works Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, Kansas Society of Land Surveyors, Engineers Club of Kansas City and is a licensed professional engineer in Kansas and Missouri. He was inducted into KU Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Academy in 2017.

“This year’s winners embody the spirit of this award. They have each made outstanding contributions to the engineering industry and worked to make the world a better place,” said Michael Branicky, dean of the engineering school. “We’re pleased to recognize them with this award, and we’re honored that they are members of the Jayhawk engineering family.”

Congratulations, Harold!