Thomas Davis Rust, a Virginia Tech Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering alumnus, will receive the American Society of Civil Engineers' Outstanding Project And Leaders (OPAL) award in Arlington, Virginia, on March 26, 2015.

The prestigious OPAL award was established 15 year ago to recognize outstanding civil engineering leaders whose lifetime accomplishments and achievements have made significant differences in one of five categories: construction, design, education, government, or management.

Rust has a diversified engineering and planning background, having started his civil engineering career in 1965 for the department of public works, Fairfax, Virginia, as an engineer, assistant chief engineer, and chief of the design branch until 1969.

"Tom Rust is one of those rare individuals who can focus on the challenges of the present yet place them in the broader context to understand their consequences for the future," said Virginia Tech President Emeritus Charles W. Steger. "He is a man of high integrity and a dedicated public servant."

Rust currently serves as vice chair on the board of directors and as a member of the executive committee for Pennoni Associates, a multidiscipline engineering and design consulting firm established in 1966, providing personalized services to local, state, and federal government, private, commercial, industrial, construction, and other professional firms.

He previously served as chair and senior principal of Patton Harris Rust & Associates for 40 years before merging with Pennoni in 2011.

Rust has been recognized for his engineering skills, including a major expansion to Tyson's Corner Shopping Center and the development around the $238 million Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, including all of the bridges and roadways leading in to its new location near the Dulles Airport during the first part of this decade. 

In 2007, he garnered the "Tower of Dulles" and "Dust, Blood, and Sweat" awards for his work promoting transportation and economic development in the northern Virginia area. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service for the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce and the 2011 Legislator of the Year from the American Planning Association.

A veteran politician, Rust was elected to the Virginia General Assembly in the House of Delegates in 2001. The Washington Post called the registered professional engineer, "one of the more effective lawmakers in the General Assembly." In 2013, he was instrumental in having the Transportation Bill passed by carrying the northern Virginia funding portion of the transportation bill for two years. Rust also served as the Herndon, Virginia, mayor for 20 years and five years prior, on the town council.

Rust served in the Virginia higher education system by assisting in leadership positions at Longwood University Board of Visitors (rector) and Virginia Tech Boards of Visitors (vice rector), and the Virginia Tech College of Engineering's Committee of 100.

In addition to his Virginia Tech degree, Rust received his master's degree from George Washington University, and a second master's degree from the University of Virginia.