Amorocho, Jaime

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Jaime Amorocho


1920 (Bogatá, Columbia) - 1983 (Davis, California)


Professor of Civil Engineering and Water Science Jaime Amorocho possessed that quality unique among engineering educators of today, a profound understanding of both the world of science upon which his profession was based, and the real world of engineering practice, which calls for viable solutions to society's problems. He was the consummate professional in all he undertook, as a practicing civil engineer, as a teacher and as a researcher.

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, January 3, 1920, Jim received his technical education at the National University of Colombia, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1943. He came to the United States the following year with a Texas Company scholarship to enter the graduate program in petroleum engineering at Pennsylvania State University, where he was awarded an MS degree.

Married in the spring of 1946 to Martha Gosztonyi, he began his professional career with the Texas Company in the petroleum industry. He returned to Bogotá in 1947 to become Secretary General for the Colombia National Petroleum Council. The following year he formed his own engineering company, Ingenieros Associados, Ltda. Later he joined the firm of R.J. Tipton Associate Engineers, and from 1949 to 1957 he was managing partner and chief engineer with responsibility for design and supervision of construction of numerous water resources projects in South America.

Returning to the United States for the Tipton organization in 1957, Jim reoriented his career toward academia, seeking to expand his capabilities in a newly developing field, stochastic hydrology, to which he was to become a pioneering contributor. At the University of California, Berkeley he initiated work in non-linear hydrologic processes that set the pattern for his career as a researcher. Joining the faculty of the Department of Water Science and Engineering of the University of California at Davis in 1961, he commenced a distinguished career as a teacher and researcher in the fields of hydrology and hydraulic engineering. He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1966 and shortly thereafter transferred into the Department of Civil Engineering.

Because of his practical experience in design of hydraulic structures Jim was called upon as consultant to the State of California in design of major features of the State Water Project, notably the California Aqueduct and the Tehachapi Pumping Plant, both the largest structures of their types in the world at the time of construction. Perceiving a need for applied research on certain aspects of design for these structures, he implemented agreements between the University and the State's Department of Water Resources to build Hydraulic Lab II on the Davis campus. As director of this laboratory from its inception, he was responsible for major design innovations in water project facilities, including regulating structures for the aqueduct and the intakes of the Tehachapi Pumping Plant. The laboratory proved to be an attraction to his students as well, providing the resources for graduate research under Jim's direction. He rapidly gained a reputation among students, not only for his expertise in hydraulic engineering but for his high standards of quality and integrity. Jim was a firm but fair advisor, who always expected and received the best his students could give.

Hydrology continued to be a major focus of Jim's research at Davis, leading to important advances in rainfall runoff modeling and simulation. For his pioneering work in hydrology he was awarded the American Geophysical Union's Robert E. Horton Award in 1974 and in 1981 was elected a fellow of the AGU.

Throughout his life Jim sought to enhance the image of the professional engineer. He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, which Society granted him its Distinguished Service Award in 1962. He served on the editorial boards of professional and research publications, notably as Editor-in-Chief from 1974 to 1981, of Hilgardia the University's prestigious journal of environmental and agricultural sciences.

M.A. Marino V. Scott G. T. Orlob

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

Developed a mathematical model for non-linear (2nd order) transfer function analysis of hydrologic systems.

Made the first application of entropy in the assessment of uncertainty in hydrology.

Made the first stochastic simulations of space-time rainfall fields

Devised practical procedures for utilizing satellite imagery to analyse rainfall episodes

Reference Material[edit]

Major Publications[edit]

Amorocho, J., & Orlob, G. T. (1961). Nonlinear analysis of hydrologic systems (Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley).

Amorocho, J., 1963. Measures of the linearity of hydrologic systems. Journal of Geophysical Research, 68(8), pp.2237-2249.

Amorocho, Jaime, and W. E. Hart. "A critique of current methods in hydrologic systems investigation." Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 45, no. 2 (1964): 307-321.

Amorocho, J., & Hart, W. E. (1965). The use of laboratory catchments in the study of hydrologic systems. Journal of Hydrology, 3(2), 106-123.

Nash, J. E., & Amorocho, J. (1966). The accuracy of the prediction of floods of high return period. Water resources research, 2(2), 191-198.

Amorocho, J. (1967). The nonlinear prediction problem in the study of the runoff cycle. Water Resources Research, 3(3), 861-880.

Amorocho, J., & Brandstetter, A. (1967). The representation of storm precipitation fields near ground level. Journal of Geophysical Research, 72(4), 1145-1164.

Amorocho, J., Brandstetter, A., & Morgan, D. (1968). The effects of density of recording rain gauge networks on the description of precipitation patterns. IAHS-AISH Publication (International Association of Hydrological Sciences), 78, 189-202.

Amorocho, J., & Brandstetter, A. (1971). Determination of Nonlinear Functional Response Functions in Rainfall‐Runoff Processes. Water Resources Research, 7(5), 1087-1101.

Amorocho, J., & Morgan, D. (1971, July). Convective storm field simulation for distributed catchment models. In Proc. Warsaw Symposium on Mathematical Models in Hydrology (pp. 598-607).

Amorocho, J., and B. Espildora. "Entropy in the assessment of uncertainty in hydrologic systems and models." Water Resources Research 9, no. 6 (1973): 1511-1522.

Amorocho, J. (1982). Stochastic modeling of precipitation in space and time. in V P Singh (Ed) Statistical analysis of rainfall and runoff, Proc. Int. Symp. on Rainfall-Runoff, Mississippi State University