Brian T. Wahlin

Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE
Vice President, Tempe, AZ

Brian T. Wahlin, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, is a Vice President with WEST Consultants and manages WEST’s Tempe, Arizona office.  Dr. Wahlin has 25 years of experience in hydraulic engineering and water resources.  During this time, he has analyzed the impacts of flowing water on bridges, dams, levees, and irrigation canals.  Dr. Wahlin has a unique blend of research experience and practical experience.  For the first half of his career, Dr. Wahlin conducted agricultural research and hydraulic laboratory studies at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service.  For the second half of his career, Dr. Wahlin has gained practical engineering experience while working at WEST, focusing on hydraulics, hydrology, sediment transport, and other phases of water resources.  Dr. Wahlin has numerous publications and awards.  He serves as program manager of a number of work orders under on-call contracts to the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, the Cochise County Department of Public Works, and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission.  Dr. Wahlin is an instructional leader in numerous subjects, with teaching experience ranging from continuing education courses for beginners to traveling throughout the country as the lead instructor for HEC-RAS and streambank stabilization courses.  He currently is a lead instructor for four different HEC-RAS courses and has conducted over 50 short courses.

Throughout his career, Dr. Wahlin has led unique and challenging engineering and educational projects.  One such project was developing a training tool for canal operators, which links an unsteady HEC-RAS model of the canal with the SCADA system.  The resulting virtual learning tool allows new operators to learn to manage canal operations in the same way a flight simulator is used for training pilots.  After applying the system to one of the largest canal operations in the country, Dr. Wahlin was not only able to simultaneously greatly improve the speed and success rate of new operator skills acquisition, but also improve the overall learning experience.   The system has also found use as an educational tool for more advanced operators, since they can train for a wide range of flow conditions and emergency situations without endangering the actual canal system.

Dr. Wahlin leads numerous professional organizations.  He is currently the President of the U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (USCID) and a Vice President for the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID).  He is also a past-president of the Phoenix Branch, Arizona Section of ASCE.  Dr. Wahlin has written over 60 professional papers and reports in the fields of water resources, hydraulics, hydrology, and sedimentation engineering.  He has spoken at over 40 conferences or professional meetings.   Dr. Wahlin has been on the organizing committees for several conferences and has been the general conference chair for two different USCID conferences.

Dr. Wahlin was the chair of the Task Committee on Recent Advances in Canal Automation, which is part of the Irrigation Delivery and Drainage Systems Committee (IDDS) of the Irrigation and Drainage Council (IDC) of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).  Under his guidance, the task committee prepared a Manual of Practice (MOP) on canal automation for irrigation systems. Formally referred to as MOP 131 Canal Automation for Irrigation Systems, this book focuses on the technical aspects of modernizing irrigation systems through the use of automated canal control systems.  MOP 131 is an essential reference for professionals in agricultural and irrigation engineering, as well as owners, managers, and operators of irrigation water delivery systems.  The Task Committee on Recent Advances in Canal Automation was formed because although there has been continual research in the field of canal automation, there has not been a formal publication on the topic for some time.  From the beginning, the Task Committee wanted the final product to be a truly international effort that would be useable in all countries.  Indeed, the Task Committee itself was composed of researchers and engineers in multiple countries including the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, France, Spain, Portugal, China, and Mexico.  In all, more than 40 different professionals from 8 different countries participated in the development of MOP 131.

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