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Arthur T. Ippen papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0011

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Arthur T. Ippen papers document his career as professor of civil engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and his active professional leadership and consulting work. The papers are rich resources on the topics of engineering education, international education, and water research. They also chronicle the construction and expansion of the MIT Hydrodynamics Laboratory and reflect Ippen's and the Institute's activities in international educational exchange during the 1960s and 1970s.

Biographical Material and Correspondence

The biographical and correspondence sections document Ippen's youth in Germany, his immigration to the United States, and his early career as a graduate student at the University of Iowa and at the California Institute of Technology. There is also a small amount of material which pertains to his early professional career at Lehigh University. The biographical materials include citations and correspondence concerning the many awards he received during his career, his retirement, and the memorial funds established in his honor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and by the International Association for Hydraulic Research. The correspondence files include letters from his family, and from student friends both in the U.S. and in Germany in the years before the Second World War as well as later correspondence with friends and professional associates. They also contain correspondence concerning the textbook Estuary and Coastline Hydrodynamics (1966), edited by Ippen. Photograph albums presented to Ippen on his retirement are incuded with biographical materials.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Records

As an educator, Ippen was especially active in the area of international educational exchange and in the strengthening of scientific and technical educational institutions, especially in less developed nations. This series documents Ippen's participation in the MIT cooperative program with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India (1965-1972), the MIT Inter-American Program in South America (1962-1965), and the MIT Faculty Exchange Program with the Technical University of Berlin (TUB), which Ippen directed from 1964 to 1974. The latter is extensively documented with interim and annual reports of project activity, reports of faculty participants, both from MIT and the Technical University of Berlin, and records of the Joint Conference on the Computer in the University (1968) which consist of correspondence, program material, and audiotapes of most of the lectures delivered at the conference. Material is also included documenting Ippen's participation in the United States-Japan Cooperative Science Program (1964-1965), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Graduate School of Engineering (1961), and a United States State Department sponsored exchange visit of hydraulic engineers with the Soviet Union (1961).

MIT Hydrodynamics Laboratory

There are rich adminstrative records of some of the numerous MIT committees on which Ippen served as well as a small amount of administrative material from the Division of Water Resources and Hydrodynamics (1952-1973), which Ippen directed throughout his career at MIT. Ippen's role in the construction and dedication of the Hydrodynamics Laboratory (1946-1950), including material relating to the dedication of the laboratory in 1951 and the symposium held to mark the occasion, is also present. The subsequent enlargement of the laboratory during the period 1964 to 1970 is documented with material from sponsors' meetings beginning in 1964 and culminating with its dedication and renaming as the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory for Water Resources and Hydrodynamics in 1970. The dedication and concurrent symposium are also documented. The lectures presented at both symposia are present in published form. In addition, there are summaries of research for 1972-1973 and summaries of laboratory publications from 1950 to 1973.

Consulting Records and Professional Papers

Ippen's professional life is thoroughly documented in materials covering his consulting, professional work in engineering societies, and conferences. The scope of Ippen's career as a consultant is evidenced by records dating from his early jobs as a consultant while still a student at the California Institute of Technology, to the continuing consultancies with the Army Corps of Engineers which he held at the time of his death. These include his services to such major clients as the Committee on Tidal Hydraulics (1950-1974) and the Coastal Engineering Research Board (1964-1974) of the Corps of Engineers, as well as numerous other clients, both governmental and private. Among the clients represented are the Water and Power Development Authority of East Pakistan (1962) and the Port Quasim Authority of Karachi, Pakistan (1973), for whom he worked on tidal estuary problems and harbor silting problems respectively. The New York Port Authority used his services for the extension of the runway at La Guardia Airport (1958-1962). The Town of Chatham, Massachusetts, engaged Ippen to study the problems of designing a navigable channel for Chatham Harbor (1951-1956). He served the Inter-American Development Bank Mission to Assess Science and Technology Projects in Brazil (1971) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Advisory Committee on the Center for Hydraulics and Applied Hydraulic Research in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1969 1973). Records from all of these projects are present in the files. Ippen's work for private companies is also amply documented. There are records of numerous consulting assignments, primarily in the areas of hydraulic equipment, industrial waste disposal into streams and reservoirs, condensor water outfall problems with offshore power stations, silting problems, and harbor and dock design problems.

Ippen's professional papers document his activities in the engineering community through his participation in professional societies. Prominent among his affiliations are the Engineering Mechanics and Hydraulics Divisions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, of which he served as president in 1960-1961, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Council on Wave Research of the Engineering Foundation, and the National Academy of Engineering. Ippen's activity on the international level is reflected in the files of the International Association for Hydraulic Research, which he served as president from 1960 to 1964, the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses, the International Union for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, and the Union of International Engineering Organizations.

The Ippen collection also includes a comprehensive set of his lectures, speeches, and writings. Ippen maintained such a file, often including correspondence concerning the lecture or paper in the file along with the drafts or reprints of the lecture or paper.

Dates

  • 1925 - 1978

Creator

Access note

This collection is open.

Intellectual Property Rights

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to Distinctive Collections. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.

Biography

Arthur T. Ippen (1907-1974) was a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Department of Civil Engineering. He was associated with the Institute for twenty-nine years, guiding its research and educational activities in hydrodynamics and hydraulic engineering through his position as director of the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory for Water Resources and Hydrodynamics.

Arthur Ippen received his early education in Germany, graduating as Diplom Ingenieur from the Technische Hochschule in Aachen in 1931. Following a year spent as a teaching and research assistant in geodesy at Aachen, he came to the United States as an exchange fellow of the Institute of International Education, studying at the Institute of Hydraulic Research at the University of Iowa. In 1934 he transferred to the California Institute of Technology where he became a teaching and research fellow in hydraulics, earning the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from that institution in 1935 and 1936. His research was strongly influenced by his association there with Theodore von Karman.

After receiving his doctorate, Ippen spent two more years at the California Institute of Technology as a research engineer and instructor in hydraulics. In 1938 he joined the faculty of Lehigh University as an instructor in hydraulics and took charge of the reconstruction of the hydraulics laboratory. He was made an assistant professor in 1939 and continued in that capacity until 1945, when he joined the MIT faculty as associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and head of its Division of Hydraulics. He was promoted to professor in 1948.

Ippen's first major project at MIT was the planning and construction of a new research laboratory for hydraulics. The MIT Hydrodynamics Laboratory, as it was first known, was completed in 1950 and was formally dedicated in 1951. In 1970 it was greatly enlarged and modernized and was renamed the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory for Water Resources and Hydrodynamics. Ippen directed the activities of the laboratory from 1950 until his formal retirement in 1973.

Throughout his career Ippen was active in international educational exchange. His most notable contribution in this field was the faculty exchange program between MIT and the Technical University of Berlin (TUB), which he directed from its inception in 1964 until his death ten years later. He was also active in the MIT Ford Foundation cooperative program with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India and the Inter-American Program of the School of Engineering which focused on water resources development in South America. He also served as a lecturer and educational consultant in many countries, notably with the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Science Program and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Graduate School.

Arthur Ippen was also widely employed as a consultant in private industry and by the United States and foreign governments. He was a consultant to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in several areas through his service to the Tidal Hydraulics Committee (1950-1974), the Coastal Engineering Research Board (1964-1974), the Philadelphia district of the Corps (1968-1974), and the Waterways Experiment Station at Vicksburg, Mississippi (1966-1974). The New York Port Authority engaged his services as a consultant on tidal problems in the East River and on the La Guardia Airport runway extension. He was a member of the UNESCO Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee on the Center for Applied Hydraulogical Research in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1969-1973), and of the MIT Mission to Singapore for Engineering and Economic Development (1969). He was also engaged by the government of Pakistan (1962 and 1973) and the Inter-American Development Bank Mission to Assess Science and Technology Projects in Brazil (1971), as well as by numerous private companies.

Ippen authored over one hundred professional articles, engineering reports, and other papers. He was also a member of numerous professional organizations and held many leading offices in them. His memberships include the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Society of Civil Engineers (life member), the Boston Society of Civil Engineers (honorary member), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Geophysical Union, the International Association for Hydraulic Research (honorary member), and the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (honorary member). He was the president of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers (1960-1961), president of the International Association for Hydraulic Research (1960-1964), and chair of three national committees of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

He was the recipient of many awards during his career. In 1949 Ippen was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1967, a Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering. In 1962 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Toulouse, France, followed by Honorary Doctorates from Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1967, and from the University of Manchester, England, in 1968. Among the awards he has received are the 1953 Karl Emil Hilgard Prize, offered by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the 1963 Vincent Bendix Research Award for Engineering Research from the American Society of Engineering Education. He was named Distinguished Alumnus at California Institute of Technology in 1970. MIT honored him with an appointment as Ford Professor in the School of Engineering (1965-1970) and in 1970 named him Institute Professor.

Extent

22 Cubic Feet (20 record cartons, 4 manuscript boxes, 3 film boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisiton

The papers were given to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) by Ruth Ippen, 1977-1981. Additional material was transferred to the Archives by the Department of Civil Engineering, Water Resources Division in 1981.
Title
Guide to the Papers of Arthur T. Ippen
Status
Ready For Review
Date
Copyright 1981
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Sponsor
Processing of the material given to the Archives 1977-1981 was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Contact:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US