November 2022 Vol. 77 No. 11


UCT: Former Orlando PWD Named 2023 MVP

Annual Award Is Sponsored By UCTA, Underground Construction 

(UC) — The Most Valuable Professional of the underground infrastructure industry will be honored as part of the Underground Construction Awards (UCA) on Feb. 6, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla. The UCA is being held the evening before kick-off of the annual Underground Construction Technology (UCT) International Conference & Exhibition, Feb. 7–9, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The 2023 award, co-sponsored by the Underground Construction Technology Association and Underground Construction magazine, will be presented to Richard (Rick) M. Howard, P.E.

Howard worked for the city of Orlando, Fla., from 1985 until his retirement in April 2022. He served as Public Works Director since 2011. In that role, he was responsible for the administration and management of the Public Works Department with manpower of 630 dedicated professionals and an average annual operating and capital expenditures of $300 million. The department, in various configurations, has included seven divisions managing the operations of Capital Improvements, Engineering, Solid Waste Management, Streets and Stormwater, Parking, Transportation Engineering, and Wastewater. 

Howard led the PWD with a focus centered on providing Orlando’s citizens a quality, sustainable environment, energy efficiency and intelligent transportation technology. Some examples include experimenting with super critical water oxidation for the control of biosolids, MSW waste-to-energy processes, accelerated development review program, artificial wetlands creation and reclaimed water distribution networks, among many others. 

“I’ve had the honor of meeting and working with Rick Howard and found him to be insightful and dedicated to his job. His ability to grasp a concept and its implications are amazing,” said Robert Carpenter, editor-in-chief of Underground Construction magazine, co-sponsor of the MVP Award. 

Strong support 

Howard was recommended for the MVP Award by several people in central Florida. “Rick Howard exemplifies a long-term champion for underground infrastructure maintenance and rehabilitation,” said Jerold L Botts, president/co-founder InnerCure Technologies Inc. “He was consistently looking for innovative technology to apply to today’s crumbling infrastructure. He not only served his community dutifully but genuinely strived to make his community a better place. 

“Rick is a consummate professional along with his hands-on approach to solving issues making him an excellent resource for many professionals in the underground rehabilitation industry,” Botts stressed. 

Angel De Jesus, P.E. and lead engineer for County Materials, remembered that he met Howard “in 1996 at the city of Orlando. At the time Mr. Howard was occupying the position of City Engineer. As his colleague in the civil engineering world, I was able to recognize his professional characteristics very quickly. A man of very levelheaded character that would respond to the needs of his community in general. That’s the way I was received by Rick at his office in 1996. 

De Jesus continued, “Over the years, and until his retirement as the Public Works Director, I was able to observe the immense impact he had in the public works initiatives around Central Florida. From roads and drainage to stormwater quality issues, Mr. Howard had an amazing hands-on experience of the infrastructure construction arena. He was an excellent professional and a better friend for many years.” 

Howard professional education includes a B.S.E. in Civil Engineering and a M.S.E. of Civil Engineering from the University of Central Florida. 

Early career 

Howard started his career in 1978 when he went to work as a civil engineer for Pan Am World Services, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., where he performed Civil and Structural Engineering in the maintenance and construction of facilities on the Air Force’s Eastern Test Range. Responsibilities included the preparation of feasibility studies, cost estimates, complete design packages, specifications and construction management. Projects included specialized foundation design, paving and drainage, rehabilitation of existing facilities, construction of new facilities, and electrical and mechanical support projects involving structural analysis and design 

In 1985, Howard became the city of Orlando’s assistant bureau chief and in 1989 he advanced to bureau chief. There, his duties included the responsibility for all administrative duties associated with the maintenance and operation of all roadway network facilities as well as the drainage systems and lakes located within the city limits. He managed a budget of over $9 million and directed the operations of 171 personnel. Howard initiated management processes responsible for improved maintenance efficiencies, established lake management programs, secured grant dollars for environmental improvements, improved street cleaning routines and began infrastructure inventory and condition assessment data collection. 

Howard advanced to the position of City Engineer for Orlando. This position included responsibility for the management and administration of the Streets and Stormwater Services Division including the Stormwater Utility. Managing a budget of $26 million, Howard directed the operations of over 150 personnel. He managed the stormwater and the maintenance portions of the transportation elements of the Public Works Capital Improvement Program with over $21 million in expenditures annually. Accomplishments included the implementation of an Engineering Standards Manual, establishment of a Stormwater Utility Division, organizing a Community Rating System program, establishing an asset management system including a pavement management system and introducing performance- based maintenance budgeting. 

In June 2011, Howard was promoted to the position of Public Works Director for the city of Orlando, Fla. 


Howard’s affiliations include: 

Florida Engineering Society (Executive Committee) 

National Society of Professional Engineers 

American Society of Civil Engineers (Executive Committee) 

American Public Works Association (Past President) 

American Society of Highway Engineers (Past Chair) 

Association of State Floodplain Managers 

Florida Floodplain Managers Association (Executive Board) 

Water Environment Research Foundation (Selection Committee Member) 

Tau Beta Pi, National Engineering Honor Society 

Chi Epsilon, Civil Engineering Honor Society

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