Civil engineering chair receives significant honor from professional society

Rollin H. Hotchkiss, BYU professor and chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, received the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2017 Hydraulic Structures Medal. The medal is awarded for “significant contributions to the advancement of the art and science of hydraulic engineering as applied to hydraulic structures,” according to the ASCE website.

Hotchkiss’ research throughout his career has focused on culverts hydraulics, low-head dam operations, and reservoir sedimentation. He has spent much of his career studying turbulence in corrugated metal culverts (a structure that allows water to flow under roads), hydraulic impacts of fish passage through culverts, enhancements of predicting sediment transport in the vicinity of culverts, and improvements in the analysis of broken-back culverts. He has co-authored HEC-26, Federal Design Guidelines for Culvert Design for Aquatic Organism Passage, and the revision of HY-8, which pertains to hydraulic jumps and broken back culverts. Not just that, he also developed the Broken Back Culvert Analysis Program (BCAP), which is used throughout the federal and state highway systems and by consultants active in highway design and/or rehabilitation. It is also now incorporated into HY-8.

When Hotchkiss began teaching at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1989, he never imagined he would be receiving this honor.

“I would go to these award functions and see these people receive these awards and I thought ‘that’s amazing! They’ve done a lot of good stuff,’” Hotchkiss said. “I never thought it would be me.”

Hotchkiss also taught at Washington State University before he started at BYU in 2005. He said receiving the medal was something he didn’t expect, but that it is a nice recognition to get.

“It’s a really humbling recognition for the things that I’ve done not for recognition, but the things I do as a professor to try and advance the state of knowledge and to help out our infrastructure,” he said. “To be recognized for that is a humbling thing.”

Hotchkiss traveled to Sacramento, California on May 25 for the award ceremony that was part of a luncheon at the Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Congress. He was given the award from Thanos Papanicolaou (left in photo), editor of the Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, and Kevin Nielson (right in photo), vice president of the EWRI. 

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