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Flowing Through Time

A History of the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research

by Cornelia F. Mutel

299 pp., illus. Iowa City, Iowa: IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, University of Iowa. 1998. ISBN 0-87414-108-7 (pb)


Since its rudimentary beginnings in a red brick cubicle perched atop a concrete water channel, the IIHR has claimed fame as a relatively small laboratory that has had a large impact on the way water is viewed, understood, and utilized. IIHR’s research—which has probed both the fundamental laws and practical considerations governing water’s flow—has reshaped the way we deal with fluids surging through our bodies, our rivers, our cities, our industries, and innumerable places in between. Here the stories of IIHR’s diverse research efforts are told within their broad context—as shaped by social need and as shapers of social function. As such, this history of a premier academic and research institute becomes both a snapshot of human interactions with the natural world and a thoroughly good read.


In this engaging, well-written book, Cornelia F. Mutel describes the evolution of one of the world’s premier hydraulic laboratories. Readers will gain appreciation for the impact of three-dimensional modeling and computers, will learn how alliances between government and university laboratories stimulate scientific process, and will discover the importance of the modern engineering laboratory both to national defense and to improved quality of life.

—Martin Reuss, Senior Historian, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

This book—which provides an excellent historical perspective of an academic research center that was more than 50 years ahead of its time—will be a welcome addition to the libraries of practicing hydraulic engineers, engineering educators, and anyone interested in the broad field of fluids engineering. It should be required reading for anyone interested in Earth’s most important resource: water.

—Professor Roger E.A. Arndt, former director of St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Laboratory
University of Minnesota

About the Author

Cornelia F. Mutel served as staff historian and archivist for IIHR for many years and wrote or edited several books on environmental themes, including A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland; The Emerald Horizon: the History of Nature in Iowa; and A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008.

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Last modified on January 21st, 2022
Posted on March 11th, 2011

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