National Academy of Engineering Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10
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Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10

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             WALLACE L.CHADWICK                                        49
                        WALLACE L.CHADWICK
                              BY STEPHEN D.BECHTEL, JR.
                WALLACE LACY CHADWICK, former vice-president of Southern
            California Edison Company and independent consultant to power companies and
            governmental organizations worldwide, died in Pomona, California, on June 5,
            1996. He was ninety-eight years old.
                “Chad” was born in Loring, Kansas, on December 4, 1897. However, he
            grew up in Redlands, California, graduating from high school there in 1916 and
            attending the University of Redlands from 1916 to 1920, with time out for service
            in the U.S. Army in 1918. As a distinguished alumnus, he was awarded an
            honorary doctor of engineering science degree from the university on Founder’s
            Day, April 20, 1965, when he also delivered the Founder’s Day address. A
            member of the university’s board of trustees from 1937 to 1979, he served as
            board chairman for thirteen of those years.
                Internationally known for his work in the fields of hydroelectric and thermal
            power, Chad’s professional life spanned six and a half decades and included work
            on many of the major civil engineering projects of the twentieth century. His
            long, productive career began in 1922 when he joined the staff of Southern
            California Edison. During the next nine years, he served in various engineering
            and construction capacities, principally as division engineer for construction on
            the Big Creek hydroelectric development in San Joaquin, California. He also
            served for three
             WALLACE L.CHADWICK                                        50
             years as transmission engineer in Southern California Edison’s general office.
                Chad resigned from Southern California Edison in 1931 to become
            engineer, and later senior engineer, on the 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct for
            the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. When that project was
            nearing completion in 1937, he returned to Southern California Edison. There, he
            served successively as civil engineer, chief civil engineer, manager of the
            engineering department, and—for eleven years—as vice-president. In addition to
             general management, his vice-presidential responsibilities included direction of
             engineering and construction, atomic engineering planning and engineering, and
             research and development. Among the many projects for which he directed
             design and construction were the 92-megawatt Big Creek No. 4 hydro project; the
             167-foot Vermillion Valley earthfill dam and spillways; and the 150-megawatt
             Mammoth Pool hydroelectric project, including a 406-foot earthfill dam, ungated
             spillway, and 3,370-megawatts in seven high-temperature, high-pressure steam
             electric power plants. His development of the first full application of digital
             computers for automatic control of large steam electric power plants earned him
             the Instrument Society of America’s Philip T.Sprague Award in 1963. Chad
             directed planning, design, and construction of the San Onofre Nuclear Power
             Plant as well as nuclear research and development. He also performed research
             and development for seawater conversion for the Mandalay project and for
             improved air pollution controls. And, in 1962, the year of his retirement, he
             produced a report for Southern California Edison on the organization and
             practices of power systems in fourteen Western European countries.
                However, Chad’s mandatory retirement at age sixty-five was merely a
            springboard for twenty-five additional years as an engineering consultant, during
            which he served thirty-three clients on more than 100 projects in eight countries.
            The Bechtel group of companies, a primary client during these years, sought
            Chad’s counsel on engineering and construction, contract administration, and
            project management issues in diverse fields, including rapid transit, water supply,
            and hydro and nuclear power.
             WALLACE L.CHADWICK                                        51
                During the 1960s, Chad lent his expertise to the joint venture of Parsons
            Brinckerhoff-Tutor-Bechtel in the analysis of engineering and construction
            problems associated with the underground subway station and tube of the new
            Bay Area Rapid Transit System. Bechtel also used his services on the Boston
            Massachusetts Redline Subway Extension for the Massachusetts Area
            Transportation Authority and for the Washington, D.C., Metro for the
            Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Bechtel water supply projects
            on which he consulted include the Skookumchuck earthfill dam and spillway for
            Pacific Power & Light and the Washington Water Power Company; the Pardee
            Dam for the East Bay Municipal Water District in the San Francisco Bay Area;
            and the Setif, Algeria, irrigation project. Chad also advised Bechtel on design and
            construction of the 5,300 MW Churchill Falls hydro development in Labrador
            and the 700 MW Manapouri hydro project in New Zealand. His nuclear power
            consultations for the company included the Midland, Michigan, Nuclear Plant;
            the Hanford, Washington, Fast Flux Test Facility; Washington Nuclear Power
            Projects 1, 2, and 4; and the South Texas Nuclear Plant. Chad also traveled to
            Saudi Arabia twenty-six times in ten years to fulfill his commitments to Bechtel
            as chairman of the Project Review Board for the massive Jubail Industrial
                Chad’s long list of clients included Southern California Edison Company,
            Consolidated Edison Company of New York, the State of California Department
            of Water Resources, Dames & Moore, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. He
            was chairman of the board of engineering consultants for design and construction
            of the 10,282-megawatt James Bay hydro development in Northern Quebec, and
            —following his consultancy with Bechtel on the Churchill Falls project—became
             a long-time consultant to the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation. He also
             prepared a special report on the adequacy of the engineering and foundation
             design of the Reza Shah Kabir Dam in Iran for Harza Engineering Company.
                Chad was an active participant in several engineering societies and received
             wide recognition and many honors—among them, election to the National
             Academy of Engineering (NAE)
             WALLACE L.CHADWICK                                        52
             in 1965. A registered civil engineer and a registered mechanical engineer in
             California, and a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, he received the 75th
             Anniversary Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in
             1955. He was a fellow and long-time member of the American Society of Civil
             Engineers, which he served as president in 1964 to 1965, and which awarded him
             the Rickey Medal in 1971.
                In 1969 Chad received the Golden Beaver Award from the Western United
             States Contractors for “Outstanding Achievement in Heavy Engineering
             Construction,” and in 1978 he was selected by Engineering News-Record as
             “Construction’s Man of the Year.” Named an honorary member of the American
             Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1979, Chad was also a fellow of the Institute
             of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the American Concrete
             Institute and the United States Committee of the International Commission on
             Large Dams.
                Indicative of Chad’s stature in the engineering community, he was appointed
            in June 1976 to head a six-member panel of experts recommended by the NAE,
            the National Academy of Sciences, and other organizations to determine the
            cause of the disastrous collapse of the 307-foot-high Teton Dam. The dam had
            collapsed while its reservoir was being filled for the first time, killing eleven
            persons and causing $1 billion in property damage. The resulting 400-page report
            faulted the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for selecting an “unfortunate” design and
            failing to heed normal safety precautions.
                Government agencies and companies worldwide continued for many years to
            value Chad’s vast knowledge and experience. But organizations closer to home
            also benefited from his energy and wisdom: Chad served for eight years as a
            member of the San Marino City Council; twenty-three years on the Water and
            Power Committee of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce; and twenty years
            on the Advisory Committee on Saline Water Conversion for the Water Resources
            Center at the University of California.
                Chad’s wife of seventy-one years and former University of Redlands
            classmate, Beulah Dye Chadwick, died in 1992. After his death in 1996, the
            Huntington Library in Pasadena, Califor
             WALLACE L.CHADWICK                                        53
             nia, requested—and received—from Chad’s family his papers for inclusion in a
             new collection on the history of civil engineering. The collection, established by
             Trent Dames of Dames & Moore as the fund for the Heritage of Civil
             Engineering, ensures a permanent record of the integrity and lifelong
             achievements of Wallace Lacy Chadwick.
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