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In Memoriam: Dr. Robert (Bob) M. Engler

Thursday, March 19, 2015

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Bob Engler and Steve Curtis, 2007

Robert M. Engler, Ph.D., Dist.D.NE, M.ASCE, a world leader in the environmental assessment of sediment for dredging, who spent most of his professional career as a senior researcher at the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), passed away on March 5 at the age of 73.  Dr. Engler served as Chair of the COPRI Waterways Committee's Dredging Operations Task Committee from its inception in 2005 until 2012, and as Conference Chair for the ASCE/PIANC Dredging 2012 Conference.


Dr. Engler was the 2007 recipient of the ASCE's The John G. Moffatt-Frank E. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award for outstanding achievement in the field of harbor and coastal engineering (pictured above). "He has provided leadership, creativity and expertise to the engineering, scientific and environmental community for the construction and maintenance of our ports' waterways in the United States," said the Moffatt & Nichol Award Committee at the time.

"He has used his technical and policy activities at the national and international levels to address laws and regulations by developing criteria that control dredging and disposal activities globally.The maritime industry would have been severely limited without his skill, knowledge and perseverance over the past decades in its efforts to provide sufficient water depth in the ports and adjacent waterways while meeting the environmental responsibility set by ever stricter requirements promulgated by the Congress and the States."

Professional Background

A geochemist who conducted research on contaminated sediments and flooded soils biogeochemistry, Dr. Engler helped develop the standards for assessing and managing contaminated dredged material. He is widely known for his work as an expert witness on topics which include dredging and its environmental impact. 

Dr. Engler has served as a technical consultant to the USACE, US Environmental Protection Agency, US State Department and United Nations on contaminated sediments, dredged material, ocean dumping, material disposal and natural resource management. Along with authoring more than 100 publications, Engler has testified to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget more than 30 times.  Since his retirement from the USACE in 2005, Dr. Engler has worked for Moffatt & Nichol as a Senior Environmental Scientist.

Volunteer Activities

In addition to his Chairmanship of COPRI's Waterways Committee, Dr. Engler was an active member of the international navigation organization PIANC since 1978. He held several leadership positions including PIANC International Environmental Commission, Chairman, 1994-2007; PIANC International Executive Committee, 1994-2007; and, PIANC US Section Vice President and Commissioner, 2008 - 2015.  Dr. Engler was also an active member of the Western Dredging Association and a regular lecturer at Texas A&M's annual Dredging Short Course.


Dr. Engler received his training at Louisiana State University, receiving a B.S. in Soil Science in 1967, and M.S. in Microelement Soil Fertility in 1969 and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Flooded Soils and Sediments in 1972.  In 2012, Dr. Engler was inducted into the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port & Navigation Engineers (ACOPNE) as a Distinguished Diplomate in Navigation Engineering.