Mr. Anthony Eberhardt, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE is the former U.S. Manager of recent Great Lakes Studies for the International Joint Commission (IJC).
After 34 years working with the Corps and US State Department, Tony retired last summer on July 31. However, he was rehired part-time by the USACE to finish a very large study of Great Lakes water level management for the International Joint Commission. He also hopes to work on a part-time basis as a consultant and perhaps teach at the University of Buffalo.
Recently, he was Manager of International Water Resources Program for USACE Institute for Water Resources, responsible for monitoring funding and managing the activities of renowned senior-level scientists involved in such activities as on-going procedures to establish the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) through UNESCO-IHP and World Water Council activities.
As U.S. Study Manager of the International Upper Great Lakes Study which was completed in March 2012 and of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study completed in May 2006, Tony was responsible for the management of funding and the execution of all U.S. activities related to these multi- million dollar U.S.-Canadian Studies for the International Joint Commission.
Prior, to accepting his position as IJC Study Manager, Tony worked for 23 years with the Buffalo District Corps of Engineers, most recently as Chief of its Water Control Center. Throughout this time, he assisted the IJC with various investigations of Great Lakes management improvements and was the alternative regulation representative to its International St. Lawrence River Board of Control.
Tony is a founding Diplomate of AAWRE since 2006 and in this interview, he shares his thoughts with AAWRE on his career path, his service to the U.S. Corps of Engineers, his love of water resources engineering, and his advice for engineers and leaders of tomorrow.
Most fun subject(s) while in school: Hydraulics and hydrology.
Most fun project or research: The hydraulic design of an improved Bird Island pier that serves as a safe fishing platform and maintains levels between the Black Rock Canal and Niagara River.
My source(s) for inspiration: My wife for her wit, intelligence and creativity.
Something I always wanted: A Dobsonian telescope (which I just received).
Favorite movie(s) and music artist(s): Indiana Jones – The Last Crusade; variety of musicians from Gordon Lightfoot to Eric Clapton.
My Favorite place(s) anywhere: Hawaii.
Me, described best in 5 words: husband, father, water scientist, musician.
Where were you born and can you share with us where most of your childhood was spent?
TE: I was born in Buffalo, New York and our summer trips were frequently to Niagara Falls.
We know that you began your formal education at State University of New York at Buffalo pursuing your Bachelors in Civil Engineering and later your Master of Science in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering. What were the key factors and who were your main influences for you to go into civil engineering and particularly water and environmental engineering?
TE: I had an early interest in structural design, but that morphed into hydraulic design through the professors I met at UB. Also, in the 70s, the environmental movement was taking shape which sparked my interest in environmental engineering and related water resources studies. Dr. Ralph Rumer of MIT was my most influential mentor at UB.
How did you enjoy being a student at State University of New York at Buffalo and what was life like for you back then during your education years?
TE: UB was a great institution for learning. The professors were top notch and they encouraged their students through scientific inquiry and field work.
And later you pursued your Doctor of Philosophy in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering and your dissertation was titled: “Interest Satisfaction Model for Lake Ontario”. Can you share with us more on your dissertation and your studies for your Ph.D.?
TE: I pursued the doctorate because I wanted to learn as much as I could in water resources engineering. The dissertation developed as a result of my work for the IJC and the management of Lake Ontario water levels. For years, we worked to provide improved water levels for all stakeholders around the lake. The technique developed is based on determining through stakeholder inquiry the most suitable levels for their particular interest. Through this, “interest satisfaction” relationships are developed which form the basis of multi-criteria decision models for water level management.
Please share with us your career path- you first began your career with a firm called Krehbiel Associates- how did you get steered into this great profession and who were the main figures or people in your life that were instrumental in shaping your early career?
TE: My master’s thesis was the simulation of a drainage basin in Amherst, New York. I went to a public meeting sponsored by Krehbiel Associates on a drainage master plan they were working on for the town. During a break in their discussions, I talked with one of their chief engineers about my work and I was hired to assist with their project shortly after.
You are one of the founding AAWRE Diplomates. Personally for you, what value do you see in the D.WRE certification and why should other professional engineers pursue the D.WRE?
TE: Certification is a validation by your scientific (and professional) peers of the expertise shown throughout your career and your desire to maintain professionalism through continual learning, licensure and technical activities. Employers are more likely to hire and retain those that have achieved this professional credential.
AAWRE Honorary Diplomate, Gerry Galloway provided these following comments to AAWRE on your behalf many years ago:
“I have known Tony Eberhardt for 8 years directly and for nearly 20 years by professional contact and reputation. For 5 years, I was, in one form or another, in his supervisory chain of command. For three of those years, while he was assigned to the International Joint Commission (IJC), he worked directly for someone whom I supervised and I was part of his evaluation process. I have been in a position to evaluate the quality of his work and his contributions to the engineering profession.
Tony is at the front of the pack. For the last 10-15 years, he has been the intellectual spirit of US activities on the Great Lakes. I picked him to come to the IJC (and have urged that he stay on) because he has more knowledge of the complex interaction of the hydrology, hydraulics, and operational regulation of the levels of the Great Lakes than anyone I know. He evidences this knowledge in meeting, in professional and technical publications and in presentations at engineering conferences and seminars. He is a superb representative of the water resources engineering community wherever he goes.”
How do you react to such praise and compliments?
TE: I’m honored to have received such a comment from someone I highly respect.
How is your typical day like now, since you are ‘semi-retired’? Having been fully retired, but being hired back by the USACE?
TE: Much the same as it was prior to retirement, but my schedule is much more flexible.
We understand that you are still active on several ASCE related committees- ASCE International Council (2009-present) and member of the ASCE Water Resources & Environmental Planning & Management Committee, Planning & Management Council (2009 – present). How active are you in these roles and why do you feel that service and participation on committees through professional societies and organizations are important?
TE: Both councils relate to activities I enjoy – support of international engineering activities and collaborative planning. I would like to become more active in both.
You have been recognized for some notable honors and awards. Among some of them- 2006 Contributor to Education Award by the New York State Society of Professional Engineers; 2006 Engineering Educator of the Year by the Erie/ Niagara Chapter of NYSSPE 2001 NSPE Federal Engineer of the Year, 1st Runner-Up of USACE Nominees; 1999 Department of the Army, Commander’s Award for Civilian Service; 1994 American Society of Civil Engineers CAN-AM Amity Award; and International Joint Commission Resolution (6/17/93) for Exemplary Performance. Is there a particular recognition that you are truly proud of and why?
TE: The 2006 NSPE contributor to education award was very gratifying. For many years, I was chair of the Erie-Niagara chapter scholarship committee and the award was based on this service and also for establishing the “Julian Snyder” endowment fund when President of the Buffalo Section of ASCE. The NSPE scholarships are awarded to high school students will high science and math skills and the endowment fund supports engineering students at UB.
Can you tell us the circumstances and back-stories of the 1999 Department of the Army, Commander’s Award for Civilian Service and 1994 American Society of Civil Engineers CAN-AM Amity Award?
TE: The Commander’s award was for my work developing a framework for future Great Lakes water level investigations. The ASCE Can-Am award was for my work over the years with Canadian engineers serving the IJC.
What do you personally feel are the biggest challenges that are on the horizon for the profession?
TE: Stationarity of hydrology can no longer be used in water resources planning and engineering. This uncertainty poses challenges when considering improving old and designing new water infrastructure. Also, the sharing of water will become a greater issue as demographics change in response to climatic stressors.
What is your personal pitch to students and kids for them to get interested to pursue a career in Civil Engineering?
TE: There are numerous uncertainties regarding climate and ecological change and variability. However, past challenges have been overcome by bright problem solvers. Civil engineers make the difference in maintaining and improving the quality of life.
From lessons you have personally learned during your life and career, what are some life lessons you give to younger engineers and professionals?
TE: Be willing to take chances and believe in your abilities. Don’t be discouraged if your path to success takes longer than you’d like.
What are some of your other personal hobbies and interests?
TE: I’ve been a semi-professional singer/guitarist and song writer for most of my life. I began playing more than 40 years ago and enjoy playing folk, rock, blues by older and newer artists like James Taylor, John Mayer and many others.
What are some of your personal goals and plans for this year?
TE: Primarily, I’ll be spending more time relaxing with my wife and sons. I also would like to stay active as a water resources engineer, travel for leisure, continue developing musically and improve my cooking skills.
To contact Tony: AJEber17@aol.com