June 2014


Mr. Dave Campbell, P.E., D.WRE is the current Director of Dam Engineering with Schnabel Engineering in West Chester, PA. As a practicing design engineer, working almost exclusively on dams for the past 39 years, Mr. Campbell is, at heart, a generalist civil engineer.  He has attained responsible levels of competency with regard to soils, foundations, geology, structures, hydrology, hydraulics and a broad array of ancillary civil design activities as they apply to dams; in addition to developing broad based business skills. Dave’s primary passion has always been connected with the hydraulics side of the dam engineering business, so involvement with spillways and outlet works, in many instances, has taken on a personally elevated priority.

Early career activities included the analysis, rock anchor strengthening design and resident engineering services for a 130-foot high concrete dam, and the Phase I Inspection of more than 100 dams under the USACE National Dam Inspection Program, plus independent review of more than 50 Phase I Inspection Reports prepared by other firms (USACE Philadelphia District contract). By 1985, Dave was Manager of Dam Engineering Services for his former employer. He was a lead designer and project manager for the 157-foot high, 2,200-foot long Monksville RCC Dam, the 2nd roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam constructed worldwide. Dave lobbied for physical hydraulic modeling of a stepped spillway for this dam, which led to a seminal research paper on the topic (Sorensen, 1985).

In 1994, Dave joined Schnabel Engineering to build a dam engineering practice for the firm. Since that time, he has been involved with engineering for more than 15 new dams up to 185 feet high, more than a hundred dam rehabilitation projects and a full array of dam engineering support services. Dave now collaborates on and reviews the work of more than 70 Schnabel employees focused on dam engineering practice. In his tenure with Schnabel, he has provided project management, engineering design and quality assurance reviews for a multitude of projects. Over the past decade, he has instituted an R&D program focused on enhancing the state of the practice related to hydraulic structures. 

Mr. Campbell achieved his D.WRE certification in 2013 and earlier this year, Dave was the named the inaugural recipient of AAWRE's Outstanding Practitioner in Water Resources Engineering for his work in project management, engineering design and quality assurance reviews for a multitude of award-winning projects. In this feature, Dave shares his story on his path to a career in civil engineering, his current work, leadership and his advice for future leaders.