Mead, Daniel W

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Daniel W Mead


Daniel Webster Mead 1862 (Fulton, NY, USA) - 1948 (Madison, WI, USA)


Daniel Mead was born in New York Sate but grew up in Rockford, Illinois. After receiving a BS in civil engineering from Cornell University in 1884, he worked for the USGS in Madison, Wisconsin, under the famous glacial geologist, T.C. Chamberlin, noted for seminal work in ground water (Anderson 2005). Later, Mead worked as an engineer for the city of Rockford, the Rockford Water Power Com- pany, and the Rockford Construction Company, gaining valuable experience that would feed his future as a professor and consulting engineer. For example, in 1887, he designed and was contractor for a ground water supply system for the city of Rockford. In 1900, he formed his own consulting firm in Chicago.

One of the students Mead supervised while working in Rockford was Frederick Eugene Turneaure, who became dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin in 1903, serving in that capacity until 1937. Turneaure thought that Mead, with his wealth of practical experience and interest in education, would be perfect to head a new department of Hydraulic and Sanitary Engineering. In 1904, Mead accepted an invitation to join the faculty with the stipulation that he be allowed time to continue his consulting work. In 1906, he opened an office of his consulting firm in Madison, which grew into the consulting firm of Mead & Hunt, currently with five offices in Wisconsin as well as offices in California, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. Mead’s son, Harold, was president of Mead & Hunt in the 1950s, and with his con- sulting partner, Henry J. Hunt, Harold undertook a revision of the 1919 textbook (Mead 1950), including a new chapter on drought.

Mead’s own work was mainly focused on hydroelectric plants, dams, and floods. During his tenure with the university, he was granted three extended leaves to pursue consulting work (University of Wisconsin-Madison 1948), all related to surface water hydrology. Specifically, he helped with flood control on the Huai River, China (1914), worked with the Miami Flood Control Conservancy District in Ohio (1915-1920), and was ap- pointed by President Coolidge to help design the Hoover Dam (1928-1929). Daniel Mead worked at the University of Wisconsin until he retired as Emeritus Professor in 1932.

Later in his career Mead was concerned with ethics in engineering. He was active in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), serving as its presi- dent in 1936, and in 1939 he established the Daniel W. Mead prize for engineering ethics for students and young engineers in the ASCE. After 3 years of persuading the various committees in ASCE of the need, he was finally authorized to prepare a manual on the ‘‘Standards of Professional Relations and Conduct’’ for the ASCE (Mead 1941a), which was first published in the ASCE Transactions with 38 pages of discussion (Mead 1941b).

Mary Anderson (Groundwater, 2006)

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

Daniel Mead is the author of one of the earliest 20th Century texts on hydrology Hydrology; the fundamental basis of hydraulic engineering, 1919.

A discussion of the content on Groundwater is given in the 2006 Ground Water paper by Mary Anderson.

Reference Material[edit]

Anderson, M P, 2006, Daniel W. Mead, Pioneer Educator, Ethicist, and Consultant, Ground Water, 44(2): 319-322, doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2005.00178.x[1]

Major Publications[edit]

Mead, Daniel Webster, 1911, The flow of streams and the factors that modify it. (Madison, Wis.,

Mead, Daniel Webster, 1919, Hydrology; the fundamental basis of hydraulic engineering, McGraw-Hill: New York

Mead, DW, 1908, Chapter on Pumping Machinery in Turneaure, F E and Russell, H L, 1908: Public water-supplies; requirements, resources, and the construction of works, J. Wiley & sons; New York

Mead, D W, 1933, Hydraulic Machinery, McGraw-Hill: New York

Mead, D.W. 1941a. Standards of professional relations and conduct. Manuals of Engineering Practice, no. 21. New York: American Society of Civil Engineers.

Mead, D.W. 1941b. Standards of professional relations and conduct. Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Vol. 106, paper no. 2098. American Society of Civil Engineers, Washington, D.C.

Mead, D.W. 1950. Hydrology: The Fundamental Basis of Hydraulic Engineering, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc.


ASCE Daniel W. Mead Prize

Mead and Hunt Inc.