Marty Wachs Memorial Essay Contest2021-08-19T14:24:01-04:00

Coming Out of the Crisis: A Look Past the Pandemic

  • Tuesday, July 20th: Q&A Webinar with Eno staff. This webinar will be recorded and posted to this site.

    View Recording
  • Friday, August 20th: Essay Submission Deadline

  • Monday, December 13th: Winners Announced

Not only are we still grappling with the on-the-ground impacts of the pandemic, but the question of what the long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis mean for the future of American communities and the transportation industry also looms large. The pace of transformation in every mode of transportation, already undergoing massive changes, has only increased during the time of COVID. As the nation gets moving again, agencies are innovating and improvising from necessity to prepare for a better future.

Here at Eno, we are looking for leaders to share their thoughts on the implications of our collective experiences during the COVID pandemic and what it means for the future of transportation systems. We seek your best recommendations for which policies, innovations, and best practices we should implement as we move from crisis to recovery and ultimately, toward our vision of a transportation system that fosters economic vitality, advances social equity, and improves the quality of life for all.


Prizes presented to the winners of both categories, Student and Professional.

Special Thanks to Linda O’Bryant for Sponsoring the Essay Contest Prizes!

Submission Guidelines


The contest will have two categories for eligibility: student and professional. Student submissions will be accepted from students currently attending any college or university at least part-time, or who have graduated within the last 6 months with a 2 or 4-year degree. Professional submissions will be accepted from anyone currently working in transportation or related fields in the U.S. or any of its territories.


Your essay must be at least 750 words but must not exceed 1,000 words.


The essays must address the theme of the contest and focus on a single topic, idea, or solution that you think could be transformational for transportation in America. Write your essay in the form of persuasive op-ed aimed at decision-makers on the local, state, or federal level, as applicable for your topic. Topics could include innovative financing structures, recruiting and retaining the next generation of leaders, leveraging technology to improve service, improving data privacy or cybersecurity readiness, governance structure reform for transportation agencies , or ideas for reducing bias in planning or practice – just to name a few! The key is to share your great idea and to use concrete examples or research to connect the concepts discussed to their real-world applications.


Writers are required to provide sources for statistics and encouraged to cite reliable sources. Please cite using in-text links to appropriate sources whenever possible, or footnotes for offline sources. Essays can use a variety of sources—academic journals, news magazines, newspapers, reputable websites, newspapers, books, government documents, publications from research organizations.


Submissions will be judged on the quality of analysis, quality of research, as well as form, style and mechanics.

Successful entries will:

♦ Provide a clear and concise summary of the significance and consequences of the issue discussed and focus on an innovative approach to address it

♦ Discuss how the solution offered will build a transportation system that fosters economic vitality, advances social equity, and improves the quality of life for all

♦ Use at least 2-3 reputable sources, as described above

♦ Use real-world examples where possible

Judging panels will be comprised of members of the Eno Centennial Steering Committee and subject matter experts. All decisions of the judges are final.


Contestants must write an original essay. To ensure that Eno remains independent and can fulfill its mission, we maintain editorial control over all publications. Eno will have the right to edit, publish or otherwise duplicate any essay entered into the contest without payment to the author. There is no entry fee for this contest.

How to Submit Your Essay:

  • Prepare your Essay for Submission.

    Save your essay as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF file. Entries must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman or an equivalent font with a one-inch margin on all sides of the page. The author’s last name and submission category must be in the file name, such as LASTNAME_Student_Eno_Essay, but should not appear in the document itself. Judges will not receive the name of the author to ensure a fair, equitable, and blind judging process.

  • Pick out your headshot.

    Your headshot must be a JPG or PNG file, at least 300 x 300 pixels, and a maximum file size of 10MB.

  • For Student Submissions

    Be sure to have proof of your student status on hand through a copy of the current semester schedule or a letter verifying enrollment on school letterhead.

  • Fill out the online registration form.

    All fields on the online form are required, including uploading your essay and headshot.

Submission Form


Are doctoral students eligible to submit in the Student cateogry, even if they are not taking classes?2021-08-11T11:55:00-04:00

Yes, doctoral students can submit in the Student category.

If you are a professional transportation and a part-time graduate student can you apply as a student?2021-07-21T11:30:37-04:00


Where does the awards ceremony take place?2021-07-21T11:29:16-04:00

The awards ceremony will be in the Washington, DC area as part of our Leadership Awards in 2022.

Are there specific font or spacing requirements for the essay?2021-07-21T11:28:15-04:00

There are no specific font or spacing requirements, but the submission should legible and easy to read. Standard font sizing and spacing, Times New Roman at 12pt, is preferred.

Can we add tables? if so, do they count towards the word count?2021-07-21T11:27:10-04:00

You can add tables and they won’t count toward the word count. Please add tables as high-quality images (at least 300 ppi in JPG or PNG format) to reduce formatting issues, if sending a Word document.

How are you managing conflict of interest, if that comes up, between entrants and judges? Without knowing who the judges are, it seems possible that entrants could definitely know (or even work with) one or more judges.2021-07-21T11:26:42-04:00

Judging will be done blind, with judges having no identifying information on the essay authors to reduce bias and conflicts. Determinations of conflict of interest will be at the sole discretion of Eno.

What is the deadline for essay submittal?2021-07-21T11:26:13-04:00

The deadline is Friday, August 20, 2021 at 11:59 PM eastern daylight time.

Should essays focus on federal policy, local policy, or both?2021-07-21T11:25:26-04:00

Essays can focus on policies, innovations, and/or practices in the public, private, and/or nonprofit sectors, as applicable for the topic.

What do you mean by “reliable sources”? Could we cite transportation professionals who have personal blogs?2021-07-21T11:21:25-04:00

Reliable sources include scholarly, peer-reviewed articles or books; trade or professional articles or books, magazine articles; government documents, publications from research organizations; as well as books and newspaper articles from well-established outlets. References to websites and blogs should be reasonably verifiable and it is up to the submitter to evaluate the reliability of online content.

May we include graphics in our essays? Can I include an exhibit like a map that the essay describes related to projects?2021-07-21T11:20:53-04:00

Submissions can include one clear graph, map, or other graphic such as a table, provided you include proper citation and permission to use. Images and graphics should be at least 300ppi and in JPG or PNG format. Eno will not seek permission to publish a graphic on your behalf.

Are submissions for a single writer/author, or would be acceptable to have two or more authors collaborate to write the essay?2021-07-21T11:20:23-04:00

Essays must only have one author.

Could we use international examples of best practices when making our arguments? Or should we stay focused on research/policies already implemented or placed as pilot programs in the United States?2021-07-21T11:19:55-04:00

International examples are certainly acceptable.

How many awards will be given? Are there any categories for honorable mention?2021-07-21T11:19:15-04:00

Eno will award a first, second, and third place prize in both categories (student and professional) for a total of six prizes. In addition, we will publish at least two honorable mention essays for each category.

Does the word limit count in the references?2021-07-21T11:18:23-04:00

No, but remember that in-line text citations should be included as hyperlinks to sources online. Footnotes are acceptable for offline sources.

Is there a preferable submission format (especially considering the blind judging)?2021-07-21T11:17:47-04:00

There is a submission form which must be filled out. Submissions must be in Word document or PDF form.

Are there citizenship requirements to submit?2021-07-21T11:16:58-04:00

There are no citizenship requirements to submit.

Can we submit an essay based on the author’s previous or ongoing work?2021-07-21T11:16:17-04:00

It is certainly acceptable to reference your other published work on the same or similar subjects. Note that your submission to Eno must be original.

Is it OK to submit the essay as an op-ed to another publication in advance of hearing the results of the contest? I.e. Does being published elsewhere make you ineligible?2021-07-21T11:15:35-04:00

The piece you submit to the Eno essay contest must be original  and exclusive to Eno. We will not consider articles sent to other publications or posted online, including on a personal blog, nor will we consider anonymous or pseudonymous submissions.

Is it correct information that graduating a 4-year university within the last year makes you eligible for the student category?2021-07-21T11:10:00-04:00

Someone who has graduated from  a 2 or 4-year program within the last 6 months can submit in the Student category.

I fit into both categories: Student and professional. Can I submit an essay under both categories?2021-07-21T11:10:27-04:00

We will accept only one submission from each person and submissions must be in only one category (student or professional), based solely on the submitter’s appropriate discretion.

The essay prompts sound like they’re for policy/better practices – but what if the essay was largely pointing out existing problems and their unintended consequences – rather than trying to suggest solutions that are really just speculation?2021-07-21T11:10:48-04:00

It is fine to opine on existing problems. Indeed, in this time of great uncertainly there is an awful lot we do not know and still need to understand. Raising questions to be explored is certainly acceptable. Do note, though, as an organization focused on relevance and impact, actionable ideas for policy and practice will be given preference

This Essay Contest is dedicated to the memory of Martin Wachs, a transportation luminary who shared his knowledge and wisdom generously with so many over the years.

Honoring Martin Wachs

The transportation world lost one of its most distinguished and impactful voices this year with the passing of Martin Wachs. Martin was a transportation engineering and planning professor/practitioner mostly in the University of California system in Los Angeles and at Berkeley, as well as the RAND Corporation. His impact on transportation and urban planning scholarship is difficult to overstate.

Martin was a close colleague of ours at Eno. In 2017, he was the first-ever recipient of the Eno Thought Leader Award which we, appropriately, presented to him at our Leadership Awards Dinner. The award acknowledges individuals that have a demonstrated body of rigorous, timely, and impactful work. Everyone who knew him agreed there was no one better suited for the award.

Over the years, Martin contributed to many Eno articles, reports, webinars, and conferences, including Eno’s Transportation Quarterly journal. His first article in 1969 came when Marty was fresh off his Ph.D. from Northwestern University and while he was on active duty as a Captain with the U.S. Army. His article that year focused on the role urban highways play in shaping patterns of growth and development. Clearly, Martin was ahead of his time and would continue to be throughout his career.

Most recently, he served on our Centennial steering committee. In his honor and in recognition of his legacy of teaching, we have dedicated this Essay Contest to his memory.

Go to Top