May 13, 2014

Mr. Dave Campbell, P.E., D.WRE, the Director of Dam Engineering with Schnabel Engineering in West Chester, PA, is the inaugural recipient of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers (AAWRE) Outstanding Practitioner in Water Resources Engineering Award.  Mr. Campbell is recognized for the outstanding practitioner award for his work in project management, engineering design and quality assurance reviews for a multitude of projects, including those selected for the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) National Dam Rehabilitation Projects of the Year and the United States Society on Dams (USSD) Award of Excellence in a Constructed Dam Project.

The inaugural Outstanding Practitioner Award was formally approved by the AAWRE Board of Trustees during the fall AAWRE board meeting in Philadelphia on October 26, 2013 and launched in December 2013.  AAWRE Outstanding Practitioner in Water Resources Engineering Award is established to recognize a Diplomate(s) who has demonstrated a significant contribution to the disciplines of environmental or water resources engineering through engineering practice.  Mr. Campbell will be recognized during AAWRE’s 10th Anniversary Ceremony on June 2 at EWRI Congress in Portland, Oregon.

As a practicing design engineer, working almost exclusively on dams for the past 39 years, Mr. Campbell is, at heart, a generalist civil engineer.  He has attained responsible levels of competency with regard to soils, foundations, geology, structures, hydrology, hydraulics and a broad array of ancillary civil design activities as they apply to dams; in addition to developing broad based business skills. Dave’s primary passion has always been connected with the hydraulics side of the dam engineering business, so involvement with spillways and outlet works, in many instances, has taken on a personally elevated priority.

Early career activities included the analysis, rock anchor strengthening design and resident engineering services for a 130-foot high concrete dam, and the Phase I Inspection of more than 100 dams under the USACE National Dam Inspection Program, plus independent review of more than 50 Phase I Inspection Reports prepared by other firms (USACE Philadelphia District contract). By 1985, Dave was Manager of Dam Engineering Services for his former employer. He was a lead designer and project manager for the 157-foot high, 2,200-foot long Monksville RCC Dam, the 2nd roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam constructed worldwide. Dave lobbied for physical hydraulic modeling of a stepped spillway for this dam, which led to a seminal research paper on the topic (Sorensen, 1985).

In 1994, Dave joined Schnabel Engineering to build a dam engineering practice for the firm. Since that time, he has been involved with engineering for more than 15 new dams up to 185 feet high, more than a hundred dam rehabilitation projects and a full array of dam engineering support services. Dave now collaborates on and reviews the work of more than 70 Schnabel employees focused on dam engineering practice. In his tenure with Schnabel, he has provided project management, engineering design and quality assurance reviews for a multitude of projects.

Over the past decade, he has instituted an R&D program focused on enhancing the state of the practice related to hydraulic structures.  Current R&D activities involve wier nappe vibration (Utah State University and The Liege, Belgium), and grout-enriched roller compacted concrete air-entrainment and consolidation enhancement (Villanova University).  In the 1990s, Dave was selected to receive the ASDSO National Award of Merit for his extensive contributions to ASDSO and the advancement of dam safety and, similarly, he received the John J. Gallen Memorial Award from Villanova University for his contributions to the advancement of dam engineering practice. In 2012, Dave presented a keynote address at the 4th International Symposium on Hydraulic Structures (Porto, Portugal) and, later that year, received the Terry L. Hampton Medal from ASDSO for his contributions to the advancement of hydraulics research and practice. Dave has also maintained a high level of interaction and support for the Villanova University Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE). He has been a CEE Advisory Committee member for more than a decade and recently received a Meritorious Service Award for his contribution to the CEE Department.

Dave reflects on recognition:

“Dave Campbell selected as AAWRE Practitioner of the Year?  It still hasn’t settled in.  On January 16th, Shyang-Chin (Sam) Lin, D.WRE contacted me to encourage me to submit.  My thoughts inevitably turn to Sam and to the many other friends and allies that have inspired, supported and enriched my career.  This award belongs as much to them as to me because without them, I would have not just done less, but done less well.  Along the way, we can each identify talented, motivated and caring people who have contributed ideas and enthusiasm, done some needed heavy lifting, or provided much needed counsel.  Most never ask anything in return and, therefore, quietly seed a parallel duty in our own minds.

Clearly, this recognition elevates my status and assists in gaining access where a little extra nudge can be helpful, but it also creates an obligation to live up to the ideals of Practitioner of the Year.  It is imperative that we celebrate those that “… broaden and deepen the body of knowledge for practicing engineers and … ‘elevate the standards’ in civil engineering” (ASCE Policy 465).  D.WRE stands for the best in the water resources profession, so award recognition by fellow D.WRE professionals is inspiring and mindful of those that set and then elevate the standards of practice.

Just as seed can’t grow without moisture, nutrients and sunshine, Schnabel’s water resources practice couldn’t have grown without a rich and supportive environment. Enthusiastic encouragement and support throughout the firm broadened our reach, enhanced our market intellect, accented our ability to serve clients, and kept our batteries charged.  Long before Schnabel immersed itself into dam engineering as a springboard for the firm’s geo-oriented core business lines,  the company’s rich and supportive environment had forged a long-standing dedication to purposeful fundamentals:  Service to clients, collaborative problem solving balanced with personal accountability and, perhaps most of all, a commitment to elevate the profession – personally, professionally and intellectually. 

The AAWRE Diplomate Program builds on those same foundation principles and aspirations.  AAWRE was founded to acknowledge and provide a forum for those who, through education, accomplishment and involvement, have sought to give more to their profession than they would be comfortable taking from it.  As for practitioners, we necessarily have a deeply vested profit motive - it’s a fundamental operational imperative. Although I know those meeting Diplomate standards are charitable, our D.WRE practitioners do not immerse ourselves in training, research and development, or outreach programs solely as charitable gestures.  We recognize that a responsible level of support in advancing our profession is recognized and valued in the marketplace for the tangible benefits it provides our profession and, most importantly, our clients.  Academic collaborations in the development and dissemination of advances in technology provide greater exposure to our companies, and astute clients seeking a consultant with demonstrated technical excellence and professional commitment repay that investment.

I am so deeply honored.  Thank you!”

To contact Dave: [email protected] 


The award will be given annually to a Diplomate of AAWRE who has made a significant contribution through engineering practice based on either a single outstanding achievement or through a body of work related to the practice of environmental or water resources engineering.