Fipps, who is also a professor with the Texas A&M University biological and agricultural engineering department, College Station, received the award “in recognition of his exceptional service in the interest of peace through application of engineering principles in solving water supply and management problems,” according to award documentation.
Among Fipps’ many accomplishments, the award cited his work as irrigation advisor in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2005, and his efforts from 2008 to 2011 assisting the U.S. Department of Defense task force for business and stabilization in Iraq.
While in Afghanistan, Fipps had to travel in armored vehicles with military escort to analyze and conduct water systems planning, according to the award. As a volunteer, he traveled to 14 forward operation bases to design and supervise a variety of water, irrigation, well, pump and subsurface drainage systems for Afghan farmers.
In eight trips to Iraq, Fipps provided expertise on various civil work projects, including canal rehabilitation, drinking water systems and center pivot designs for farming operations.
In Texas, Fipps is better known for his educational programs to enhance irrigation and water use efficiency for urban and agricultural irrigators, said Dr. Stephen Searcy, professor and head of the biological and agricultural engineering department at Texas A&M.
Searcy said Fipps is also well known in Texas for his origination and management of the Texas ET Network, the Water My Lawn website, training courses for irrigation designers and installers, as well as his collaborations with water agencies of the state, such as the Lower Colorado River Authority, San Antonio Water System, Brazos River Authority, Rio Grande Valley irrigation districts and numerous municipal utility departments.
Fipps is also has extensive experience in the development of a combination of tools, including the TexasET Network and website, geographic information, land surveys and databases used by irrigators to improve efficiency and reduce irrigation water losses, according to Charles Swanson, AgriLife Extension specialist, College Station, who works closely with Fipps.
Other major awards Fipps has received include the Merriam Improved Irrigation Award from the U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage in 2013, the Award for the Advancement of Surface Irrigation from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in 2012, the ICID Best Paper Award in 2011 and AgriLife Extension’s award for Superior Service in 2009.
Fipps helped found the Texas Agricultural Irrigation Association and served as a director from 1991-1992. He also served as associate editor for the Journal of Applied Engineering in Agriculture from 1995 to 1997. He was the founding director of the Texas A&M Irrigation Technology Center.
Fipps is a member of numerous other professional organizations, including the Irrigation Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Geophysical Union and the American Water Resources Association.