George Tchobanoglous, a professor emeritus in the UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been profiled in an extensive, 10-page cover story in the winter 2015 issue of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists‘ (AAEES) Environmental Engineer & Scientist periodical.
The article profiles Tchobanoglous from his childhood days in a Greek-speaking family, growing up on a fruit and vegetable farm in Patterson, Calif., and the pivotal moment when he earned a full-tuition civil engineering scholarship to Stockton’s College of the Pacific (now the University of the Pacific). He was drawn to water-related subjects; after earning a master’s degree in sanitary engineering at UC Berkeley, he spent two years working on a study of solid waste management at West Coast U.S. Naval installations. He moved to Stanford to complete his PhD work on the filtration of secondary affluent, and then accepted an offer from previous mentor Ray Krone, who had just started the environmental engineering program at UC Davis. Tchobanoglous joined the campus’ College of Engineering in the fall of 1970.
He soon became an international authority on wastewater treatment, management and reuse, and is widely recognized for promoting new technologies in wastewater filtration, UV disinfection, aquatic treatment systems, decentralized wastewater management systems, and solid waste management. He has written more than 525 publications, including eight reference books and 22 textbooks, the latter translated into 10 languages and used by engineers throughout the U.S. and around the world. Wastewater Engineering: Treatment and Resource Recovery, co-authored with H. David Stensel, Ryujiro Tsuchihashi and Franklin Burton, has just been updated with a fifth edition.
“With the exception of the textbook Wastewater Engineering: Collector and Pumping of Wastewater, all of my books have been collaborations,” Tchobanoglous notes, “as I enjoy the stimulus and interaction that comes from working together as a team.”
Tchobanoglous — affectionately known by friends and colleagues as “George T” — was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2004, and in 2012 was presented with the AAEES Excellence in Engineering Education Award. In February 2014, he was one of six acclaimed faculty members and alums featured in the UC Davis College of Engineering’s Kemper Hall Innovators Exhibit. Today, slowing his pace not at all, he chairs the National Water Research Institute Panel, tasked with developing a framework document for direct potable reuse.
In 2003, Tchobanoglous and his wife Rosemary established an endowed UC Davis fellowship, which annually recognizes outstanding graduate students in environmental engineering. In his spare time, he continues a lifetime interest in photography — his efforts having been showcased in two gallery exhibitions — and cultivates roses in pots that are watered via drip irrigation.
The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists was founded in 1955 for the principal purpose of serving the public by improving the practice, elevating the standards, and advancing public recognition of environmental engineering through a program of specialty certification of qualified engineers. The AAEES mission is to protect public health and the environment by recognizing leadership and excellence through board certification of environmental engineers and scientists; and by providing professional development opportunities for students, engineers and scientists.
The quarterly Environmental Engineer & Scientist covers topics such as environmental public policy; developments in environmental engineering and science practices; environmental law and certification/licensing; environmental health and safety; personnel issues and ethics practice; engineering and science education; environmental management; historical accounts of environmental engineering, science programs and facilities; and profiles of prominent environmental engineers, environmental scientists, and educators who have made — or are currently making — significant contributions to the advancement of the profession.