100 Years Chair of Dredging Engineering 1922-2022
WODCON XXIII - Dredging is changing - The Practice. The Science. The Business.
S.A. Miedema, C. van Rhee
"On October 5th 1922 Prof. ir. C.M. van Wijngaarden hold his inauguration speech named "De ontwikkeling van het baggerwerktuig". He occupied the chair of Dredging Engineering for 40 years. After him Prof. Bos, Prof. de Koning, Prof. Vlasblom and Prof. van Rhee occupied this chair for a total of 100 years. It's an interesting question to be answered, how did the chair develop over the years and what is the vision on the future. These developments of course also depend on the developments in the world and especially the developments in the universities. Where Prof. van Wijngaarden focussed on the development of dredging equipment with the development of the diesel engine after World War II as a highlight, Prof. Bos started research and founded a laboratory because of the Delta Works, parallel to the developments in the dredging industry carrying out research as CSB (now SSB) at the Delft Hydraulics Laboratory. Bos build a laboratory at the Delft University with empirical models as a result. Prof. de Koning introduced designing dredging equipment based on physics and based on the boundary conditions of dredging. He also delivered the first PhD's in dredging, Dr. Miedema in 1987 on sand cutting and later Dr. Matousek in 1996 on slurry transport. The modelling became more fundamental with resulting analytical models, but also time domain simulations of CSD motions in waves. Up to the mid 90's the university finance was based on input financing, you get money for what you need. From the 60's and 70's the universities in the Netherlands also had a very democratic system. Boards were chosen and controlled by staff, from secretary to full professor. Later in the 90's both changed. University finance was based on output financing and management was appointed based on management qualities. In this transition period Prof. Vlasblom was appointed. He focussed more on systems and a dynamical approach. Not just a single dredging vessel, but all vessels working together on a project as a system. He could not just appoint PhD's based on input financing, but needed funding from government and/or industry to finance fundamental research. Output financing was based on numbers of papers and numbers of PhD's and students. Although journal papers were preferred, one could get away with conference papers, which was much more the culture. A journal paper had double revenues compared to a conference paper, so just publish more conference papers. In this period two PhD's were delivered, Dr. van Rhee in 2002 on hopper sedimentation and Dr. den Burger in 2003 on cutter head spillage. Up to 2004, Dredging Engineering was a specialisation of Mechanical Engineering at the Delft University with 10-20 MSc students each year. In 2004 a new MSc program was established, Offshore and Dredging Engineering, a merge of Dredging Engineering of Mechanical Engineering, Offshore Engineering of Civil Engineering and Offshore Hydromechanics of Marine Technology, comprising of almost everything offshore, not having the function of transportation. This new MSc program, allowing ME, CE and MT bachelors to get an ODE MSc degree, started with 15 students/year, which increased up to 170 students/year in 2014 and stabilised with about 60 students/year nowadays. So, when the current Prof. van Rhee started in 2006 there was an MSc program ODE, PhD's had to be funded, there was output financing based on student numbers and papers, now the Hirsch index was important and there was professional management. A new situation compared to the previous professors. This resulted in many PhD's in the last 15 years, a change in attitude towards publishing, much more journal papers, not neglecting"
Keywords: Dredging, Science, Engineering, PhD's, Students, Delft University of Technology