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Petersen, Margaret

Margaret S. Petersen, P.E., D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE

Petersen, Margaret 

Education: 
BS 1947 in Civil Engineering
MS 1953 in Mechanics and Hydraulics

Margaret S. Petersen became one of the nation's leading hydraulic engineers at a time when it was not common for women to practice engineering. Professor Petersen has attained international recognition and has received numerous awards given by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She began her employment with the Corps with the Rock Island District before becoming an undergraduate at the UI. After receiving her engineering degree, she held increasingly responsible posts in research, design of hydraulic structures, channel hydraulic structures, channel hydraulics, and water resource planning. She has worked on some of the nation's largest water projects, including the Mississippi River flood control and navigation effort, the Missouri River multipurpose storage reservoirs and navigation improvments, the Arkansas River navigation project, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta project, and post-authorization planning for the $1 billion Marysville Lake multipurpose reservoir on the Yuba River in California.

Prof. Petersen's second career as an engineering professor at the University of Arizona's College of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1981, had been as outstanding as her first. She developed new graduate-level courses in hydraulic engineering based on her own experiences, and is the author of Water Resource Planning and Development (1984), which has been widely accepted internationally because it presents procedures for planning and gives special attention to problems of the lesser developed countries. Her 1986 book, River Engineering, is also widely used in the United States and internationally. She has also been an invited lecturer in South Africa, China, and Morocco. In 1996, she completed a monograph on Inland Navigation and Canalization for the Chinese International Research and Training Center on Erosion and Sedimentation, Beijing. Currently University of Arizona associate professor emerita of civil engineering/engineering mechanics, Professor Peterson is involved in work with the International Federation of Scientists/World Laboratory, Lausanne, related to planetary emergencies and to improving the standard of living in developing countries and promoting peace.

Prof. Petersen has been an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at the section, branch, and national levels for many years, including two years as Chair of the Hydraulics Division's Executive Committee. She was elected to the grade of Honorary Member in ASCE in 1991, and received the ASCE Hunter Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Award in 2001 and the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute's first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Huntington Library for the Trent Dames Fund for the Heritage of Civil Engineering.