Robert G. Dean, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, Dist.M.ASCE, NAE, a world leader in coastal engineering, who spent most of his professional career as a graduate research professor in the Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering Program in the Civil and Coastal Engineering Department at the University of Florida, passed away on February 28 at the age of 84. World renowned in the area of coastal engineering, Dean had researched and taught subjects relating to waves and wave forces, and beach systems for the last 51 years. Past chair of the ASCE/COPRI Coastal Engineering Research Council, which manages the biennial International Conference on Coastal Engineering, he is known to his colleagues as a great teacher and mentor, having educated most of the coastal engineers in the U.S. and world.
Authored of the book Beach Nourishment: Theory and Practice, Dean is also coauthor with Robert Anthony Dalrymple, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, Dist.M.ASCE, NAE, of Water Wave Mechanics for Engineers and Scientists and Coastal Processes With Engineering Applications in addition to authoring or coauthoring over 200 technical publications and more than 20 book chapters. Throughout his distinguished career he consulted with approximately 100 firms and governmental agencies in the general area of coastal and ocean engineering.
A graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, in 1948, Dean attended Long Beach City College for 2 years, graduating with an Associates of Arts Degree in 1952. He went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1954, his master’s degree in oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1956, and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1959. A researcher, consultant, practitioner, and professor in coastal engineering who loved studying beaches, Dean taught at several universities including MIT, the University of Washington, the University of Delaware, and finally the University of Florida, where upon his retirement in 2003, he was named emeritus graduate research professor.
In addition to teaching, Dean was employed from 1960 to 1965 as a senior research engineer for the Chevron Research Corporation – then a research subsidiary of Standard Oil Company of California – where he analyzed proprietary hurricane-generated wave and wave force data measured from instrumented offshore oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. From 1985 to 1987, he was appointed director of the Division of Beaches and Shores for the Florida Department of Natural Resources, where he was responsible for the State’s beach program, encompassing some 800 miles of sandy beaches.
Actively involved in working on flood issues, Dean participated in the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET), under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to investigate the failures of the New Orleans levees after the flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Additionally, he has investigated the causes of damages to more than 80 individual structures, principally in Mississippi.