/ Awards / Penn State Ancient DNA LAB Cited in National Engineering Competition

Penn State Ancient DNA LAB Cited in National Engineering Competition

Parul Dubey on April 4, 2022 - in Awards, News

Specialized Facility Provides Environment for Million-Year-Old Samples


WASHINGTON, DC – Gannett Fleming, Inc., of State College, Pa., has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 55th annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for designing a laboratory to study ancient DNA at Pennsylvania State University’s State College campus.

Analyzing samples of one-million-year-old DNA requires a scrupulously sterile environment, free of contaminants, to protect their integrity. Gannett Fleming worked with Penn State researchers to develop a space highly customized to fit their specialized work processes, with cleanroom-like conditions to keep samples pure and store them at cool temperatures.

Design features include airflow and air-filtration systems that minimize airborne particulate matter, while a refrigeration system maintains storage temperatures precisely between -20 and 4 degrees Celsius. An emergency power generator ensures these vital systems will remain in operation in the event of power failure. Along with its precise environmental systems, the lab offers the flexibility to develop new tools for studying ancient DNA, and training researchers from around the globe.

Founded in 1915, Gannett Fleming is a global infrastructure and engineering firm.

The project is eligible for additional honors as part of 195 entries this year representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”– took place in February and was conducted by a national 27-member panel of built environment leaders, along with experts from government, the media and academia. Award criteria focused on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top winners—20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement—will take place during the 2022 EEA Gala, to be held in Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the business association of America’s engineering industry, representing more than 5,200 independent engineering firms and more than 600,000 professionals throughout the United States engaged in the development of America’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, along with environmental, industrial and other public and private facilities. Founded in 1906 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 52 state and regional organizations.

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