Orange County Branch Newsletter

August 2011

In Memoriam

Dr. Mohammad Gamal Mostafa


By Zeki Kayiran, P.E.

On Monday, April 4, 2011, we lost Dr. Mohammad Gamal Mostafa, professor, advisor, and mentor to not only many of us in Southern California, but to many more throughout the world.  He touched our lives profoundly, and was always there when his immense knowledge and wisdom were needed.

Dr. Mostafa was brilliant; an extraordinary person who was the epitome of all things aspired to in life. He was academically without peer, collegial, accomplished in the profession, and loving beyond compare to his wife, children, grandchildren and the vast extension of family and friends all over the world.   

Some of us were lucky to have worked with him know of his accomplishments first-hand.  Many others continue to benefit from his work.  His contributions were of such significance that they need to be noted by the Civil Engineering family.

Dr. Mostafa earned his BSCE with Honors at Cairo University in 1943, MSCE at the University of Washington in 1946, and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 1949.

He was awarded United Nations Fellowships at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, Colorado; U.S. Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi; Societe' Grenobloise d'etudes et d'applications Hydraulique in Grenoble, France; and Ecole Federale de Zurich, Switzerland between 1955 and 1958.

He was a Registered Civil Engineer in Egypt and California; and a member of the International Association for Hydraulic Research, International Water Resources Association, and ASCE.

His career included service as the Chief Hydraulic Engineer of Aswan High Dam Department; Director of Hydraulic Research and Experiment Station at Delta Barrage, Egypt; and Professor of Civil Engineering at California State University, Long Beach, including two years as the Department Chairman.  He taught several graduate and undergraduate courses and directed 38 graduate studies including 15 theses during his service at CSULB.

Dr. Mostafa served as a consulting engineer for international agencies (United Nations Development Agency, World Bank, United States Agency for International Development, and Canadian International Development Agency); the federal government (Justice Department, and the Los Angeles District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), and the State of California (expert witness for the State Attorney General on several cases involving hydraulic and sedimentation engineering related to ownership disputes of lands adjacent to the Colorado River.

During his long, illustrious career, Dr. Mostafa conducted numerous studies for the Orange and San Bernardino County Flood Control Districts and consulting firms, including

  • Design of Drop Structures,
  • Stilling Basins,
  • Hydraulics of Side-Weirs in Open Channels,
  • Hydraulics of Open Channel Transitions,
  • Analytical Study of Sediment Processes in Trabuco Creek,
  • Head-Cutting upstream of San Juan Creek Sand-Gravel Pit in the Vicinity of Casper Regional Park,
  • Santa Ana River Sediment-Hydraulics Study,
  • Variation of the Friction Coefficient in Open Channels (Talbert Channel),
  • Hydraulics of Open Channel Bifurcation (Laguna Canyon Channel),
  • Sedimentation Engineering Management Analysis for Lower Santa Ana River Canyon,
  • Flow through East Garden Grove - Wintersburg Channel Culverts under I-405 Freeway,
  • Sediment Deposition in Bonita Canyon Reservoirs,
  • Hydraulic Model Investigation for the Design of Day Creek Peak Reduction Facility,
  • Hydraulic Analysis of Lemon Basin Inlet Chute Channel,
  • Hydraulic Model Investigation for the Design of West State Street Channel Flow Splitting Project,
  • Hydraulic Review of Jurupa Basin Inflow Optimization Report,
  • Study of the Impact of Exclusion of Sediment Delivery from Gypsum Canyon Watershed on the Stability of the Santa Ana River,
  • Estimation of Sediment Volume Requirement in the Design of Retarding Basins in upper San Diego Creek Watershed (Agua Chinon, Round & Bee Canyons),
  • Moreno Highlands Project Sediment Yield Study, and
  • checking Marshburn Retarding Basin Sediment Volume Requirement.

He published 28 papers on hydraulics of open channels and on sediment transport, and wrote over 100 technical reports on engineering projects. Examples of his published works are:

  • Height and Time of Surge in Surge Tanks," thesis in partial fulfillment of the Degree of M.Sc. inCivil Engineering, University of Washington, 1946.  The solution of the differential equation of surge was introduced for the first time and has since been used in the design of surge tanks.
  • Analytical and Experimental Study of the Effects of Flow Characteristics and Fluid Viscosity Upon the Movement of Bed-Load in an Open Channel" thesis in partial fulfillment of the Degree of Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1949.  The analysis introduced for the first time in this thesis of how the supposedly very different formulas for sediment transport of A.A. Kalinske and H.A. Einstein were in fact almost identical and differed only for the selection of a time factor, attracted the attention of everyone involved on sediment research.
  • Celeron/All American Pipeline crossings of the Santa Ynez River, Cuyoma River, and Sisquoc River, County of Santa Barbara.  The classic 1956 paper by Ning Chien published in the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers and titled, "The Present Status of Research on Sediment Transport," reported this accomplishment. Since then, formulas which were introduced over the years were based on regression analysis of field and laboratory data.
  • River-Bed Degradation Below Large Capacity Reservoirs," published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Proceedings in 1955 and Transactions 1957. This paper was the first-ever published attempt to mathematically model the degradation mechanism and is credited to have triggered the professional and academic interest on this subject that led to the state-of-the-art in sediment routing. The method is quoted in such classic books on sediment transport as "Sediment Transport Technology" by Daryl Simons and Fuat Senturk and "Sediment Transport in Alluvial Streams" by Janos Bogardi.
  • Discussion of Norman Brooks Ph.D. Thesis published by the American Society of Civil Engineers Transactions, 1958 titled "Mechanics of Streams with Movable Beds of Fine Sand," (with E.J. Carlsen).  A very interesting paper by N. Brooks on the results of his Laboratory experiments at Cal Tech concluded that the sediment transportation rate could not be expressed as a unique function of the bed shear stress, the channel geometry and the properties of the sand. The discussion by Carlson and Mostafa showed that the same experimental data when plotted non-dimensionally produced two consistent relations; one for smooth bed and the other for dune bed.  This paper, together with its discussions was selected among 14 outstanding works in Hydraulics by the Task Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers to develop a Volume of Classics in Hydraulics, John S. McNown, Chairman. "Classic Papers in Hydraulics" was published by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1982.
  • Discussion of "Hydraulic Relations for Alluvial Streams, by the Task Committee for Preparation of the ASCE Sedimentation Manual," Proceedings ASCE, 1971 (with M. McDermid).  This discussion was selected by the ASCE to be included in the Sedimentation Engineering Manual 54, 1975.
  • "Flow at Grade-Break from Mild to Steep Slopes," Journal of the Hydraulics Division of the ASCE, Oct. 1976 (with R. Weyermuller).  This paper settled the problem often met in hydraulic computations when the channel bed profile suddenly steepens and the section at the grade-break becomes a control section for both upstream and downstream gradually-varied flow conditions.
  • "Unsteady Flow in Open Channels with Slide-Webs," proceedings, International Symposium on Unsteady Flow in Open Channels, University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, 1976 (with H.L. Chu).  Both this paper and several others by Mostafa and Chu and by graduate students at CSULB on the subject of Side-Weirs have been subject of a great deal of interest and controversy for many years.

Dr. Mostafa organized, chaired and edited eight volumes of Proceedings of Engineering Workshops sponsored by the ASCE Los Angeles Section and Orange County Branch. Each of these workshops had over 100 participants who are practicing hydraulic engineers working for private firms and public agencies in Southern California.  Dr. Mostafa opened each workshop with a presentation of the State-of-the-art on the workshop's subject, followed by 12 to 14 presentations of refereed papers on theory and application as well as case studies. His awards included:

  • National Encouraging Award in Engineering Sciences, Egypt, 1959
  • Top Order of Merit for Achievement in Arts and Sciences, Egypt, 1960
  • Outstanding Educators of America, 1971
  • The Engineering Merit Award of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Orange County, California, 1981
  • The Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award, California State University, Long Beach, 1982
  • The Outstanding Merit Award, California State University, Long Beach, 1984
  • The Meritorious Performance Award, California State University, Long Beach, 1986
  • ASCE Los Angeles Section Nominee for the Distinguished Engineering Educators Award, 1987
  • The Outstanding Achievement Award of the Egyptian-American Organization, 1988
  • The Distinguished Emeritus Faculty Award, California State University, Long Beach, 1993

From the scope and breadth of Dr. Mostafa’s illustrious career, it is absolutely clear that he had an indelible impact on the field of Civil Engineering.  The legacy he leaves behind not only spans the globe, but is one that only a few rare individuals accomplish in a lifetime.  He will be sorely missed.

For more on Dr. Mostafa, see the L.A. Times article from July 13, 2011

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