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IIHR Celebrates New Book on Hans Albert Einstein

Posted on September 30th, 2014

Book cover: Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering EngineerThree recent events celebrated the publication of a new book about the life and work of Albert Einstein’s oldest son.

Robert Ettema and Cornelia F. Mutel explore the life and work of Hans Albert Einstein, a 20th-century pioneer in the field of river engineering. Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, offers new insights into the Einstein family and the complex relationship between father and son, documented with personal letters and other original materials never before shared outside the Einstein family.

Three public events were held in honor of the book’s publication:

  • Book reading by the authors, Robert Ettema and Connie Mutel:
    Wednesday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m.
    Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City
  • Seminar: “Hans Albert Einstein: Albert’s Son and Pioneering Engineer”
    Presented by Robert Ettema and Connie Mutel
    Reception to follow
    Seamans Center, Room 1505 (University of Iowa campus)
  • Seminar: “John Fisher Kennedy — Student and Statesman of Water Engineering”
    Presented by Robert Ettema
    Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory, Seminar Room (University of Iowa campus)
  • Co-authors Ettema and Mutel will also be the guests on Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa
    Monday, Sept. 15, at 10 a.m.

The book tells the story of Albert Einstein’s eldest son, Hans Albert, a gifted and dedicated hydraulic engineer. The book is the culmination of a longstanding project at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a research institute at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer combines the story of Hans Albert’s life with a fascinating account of his work in the field of river engineering. The book’s authors weave these two threads together seamlessly, providing an absorbing and readable account that will appeal to scientists and nonscientists alike.

The book is the culmination of a longstanding project at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, conceived by former IIHR Director Jack Kennedy, who was a colleague and admirer of Hans Albert.

Hans Albert Einstein was single-minded in his efforts to understand and quantify the relationships between alluvial sediment transport and water flow in rivers. He was, for example, the first to develop a mathematical formulation describing sediment transport in rivers — a tremendous achievement that to this day stands as an important component of our understanding of river flow. His work extensively aided major river engineering projects in the United States, including those along the Missouri and Arkansas Rivers.

Robert Ettema is a professor at the University of Wyoming, where he served six years as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. In addition to research and teaching activities, he consults extensively for agencies and industry, and has served as editor of ASCE’s Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. Previously, he was a faculty member and research engineer at IIHR, where he also served as associate and then interim director.

Cornelia F. Mutel is senior science writer at IIHR; she has written a dozen books and numerous articles on a variety of science-related topics, ranging from natural history to ecological restoration to the history of engineering. Her most recent writing reflects the increasingly complex interaction between Iowa’s altered natural environment, the state’s hydrology, and the consequences of climate change.

Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer is published by the ASCE Press, ISBN 9780784413302. To learn more, visit

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