Medford, MA 02155
Steven Chapra, F.ASCE, F.AEESP
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Louis Berger Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. University of Michigan
B.S., M.E., Manhattan College
Water Quality Modeling, Numerical Methods, Advanced
Computer Applications in Environmental Engineering
To learn a little about my background and teaching experience, please read
below and visit my other pages:
"I'm an environmental engineer and a professor in
the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Tufts University
outside Boston. I grew up in New York City and was educated at Manhattan
College and the University of Michigan. Aside from Tufts, I've worked for
the U.S. EPA, NOAA and Texas A&M University and the University of Colorado.
I was fortunate enough to spend the 1997 and 1998 school years in London at
Imperial College and the University of Reading.
I was originally drawn to environmental engineering because of my love of
the outdoors. I am an avid fly fisherman and hiker. My primary research
focus is surface water-quality modeling, and my primary professional goal is
to apply engineering, mathematics and computing to maintain a high quality
environment in a wise and cost-efficient fashion. I feel blessed to have
found a profession where I can meld my love of mathematics and science with
my passion for the natural environment. In addition, I get to share it with
others through my teaching and writing."
Although I love research, the primary reason that I work at a university is
that I love to teach. I find my greatest satisfaction in turning on the
proverbial "light bulb" above my students' heads. Their growth is my major
objective and reward.
Steve recently gave a
workshop on water-quality
modeling in Quito, Ecuador
where he also got the chance
to do some "environmental
sampling" as shown in the
When I first came to teaching, I thought that my raw enthusiasm and knowledge
would make me a good teacher. I soon learned, however, that it takes more than
these admittedly important factors. Consequently, my teaching philosophy is
based on 5 fundamental principles:
- Respect for students. Although it is not always easy, I try to
treat every student as if they were my sons and daughters. By this, I
certainly do not mean that I coddle them (as I tried to never coddle my own
son). Rather, I place their development and growth as my paramount
objective; and I respect them enough that I want them to leave stronger then
when they entered my course. That's what I've always desired for my son, and
I desire no less for my students. In some cases, this means that I'll be
caring and nurturing. At other times, I'll be tough and demanding. What
matters is that the end result is a more empowered individual. My
expectations are always high, because I ascribe to the dictum: "Aim high,
miss high; aim low, miss low."
- Organization and Professionalism. Although it's sometimes a tough
balancing act between research, service and all the other demands on
faculty, I strive to have my "teaching act" together each and every time I
meet a class. This means everything from getting graded work back in a
timely fashion to having a well-designed lecture planned for every class to
devising tests, assignments and projects that have sound pedagogical value.
It also means that I'm a stickler for ethical behavior. I want to exhibit a
professionalism in the way I approach teaching that, aside from the obvious
logistical benefits, provides a model of professional behavior for my
students; something they'll need to be successful in the "real world."
- Knowledge and Enthusiasm for the Subject. Life's too short to
spend on things we hate. I love and care about what I do, and I want
students to observe and hopefully share that passion. I try to bring that
enthusiasm into the classroom. Further, I continually update my
presentations from year to year, by bringing in new ideas from the
literature and my own research, as well as new problems and examples. In
particular, I try to bring my own professional experiences into the
- Fairness in Evaluation. I'm not crazy about grades, as they can
distract from the true task of learning and growing. However, I also realize
that life does involve a certain amount of evaluation and healthy
competition. Therefore, I strive to ensure that my students are fairly
evaluated. First and foremost, I admit my mistakes and give students a forum
for appeal. I also try to give them lots of opportunities to prove their
mastery of the subject. When I was in school, I disliked courses that
posited the whole grade on a single exam. I discerned that this was
invariably a case of a lazy instructor, rather than the typical raison
d'etre that it provided a comprehensive test. On the other hand, I also
demand that student work be performed professionally (good presentation,
well-written, punctual, etc.), and penalize students who do not meet my
clearly specified standards. I do this both to make my grader's life easier
(and thus, get graded work back in a timely fashion), as well as to provide
them with one more example of professional behavior.
- Rapport and Listening. Connecting with students is imperative.
For one thing, learning is an interactive, two-way process. If both sides
aren't actively pursuing a common goal of growth and learning, the
experience will be suboptimal at best; at the worst, it will be a waste of
both party's time. I attempt to get to know them by learning their names
during the first few weeks of the semester. I also have them write a short
biosketch where I have them write about their backgrounds, achievements,
goals and aspirations. I also try as much as possible to interject anecdotes
regarding my own development and career growth during my lectures. This
personal touch, along with a strong dose of humor, seems to open up most
students and help them perceive me in the role I love best--a coach and
facilitator; that is, an individual who will help them attain their maximum
Workshops and Short Courses
Steve Chapra and Prof. Luis Camacho
of Universidad de los Andes along with workshop participants in Bogota,
Columbia on June 22, 2012.
Over the past 25 years, I've conducted over 70 workshops and shortcourses
here in the United States and abroad. At first, I limited the presentations to
week-long courses at my university. In recent years, it has been more
cost-effective for the attendees to have me travel to a site where I would
conduct the course for a government agency, a firm or a professional
organization. Some of the courses are listed below:
- Modeling of Eutrophication in Impoundments,
University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 29-August 2, 1996.
- Water-Quality Modeling of Lakes and
Reservoirs, Beginners Workshop, NALMS 16th International Symposium,
Minneapolis, MN, November 13, 1996.
- Water-Quality Modeling Workshop for TMDLs,
Washington State Department of Ecology, Olympia,WA, June 25-28, 2001.
- Application of QUAL2K for River Eutrophication TMDLs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD, July 10-13, 2007.
- Introduction to Water Quality Issues and Modelling, SA Water Research Commission and SA Dept. of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, South Africa, January 21-22, 2008.
- 2011 QUAL2K Hands-One Water Quality Workshop.
Department of Environmental Engineering; Institute of
Environment and BioSystem Research; Chungnam National
University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, July 21, 2011.
- Advanced Water Quality Workshop with Qual2K. Santiago,
Chile, Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, March, 21-22, 2012.
- Lake Water Quality Modeling with Lake2K. University of
Brescia, Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture,
Land and Environment, Brescia, Italy, May 29-June 1, 2012.
- Seminario Internacional: Modelación de la calidad del
agua superficial. Universidad de los Andes, Bogota,
Columbia, June 19-22, 2012.
- Lake Water Quality Modeling Workshop. Montana Dept. of
Environmental Quality, Helena, MT, June 3-5, 2013.
- Curso QUAL2K Para La Modelación de la Calidad del Agua en
Ríos y Instituto Nacional de Preinversión y Pi Epsilon, Quito,
Ecuador. August 17-21, 2015.
As you can see, the presentations range from general overviews to specific
topic areas and models. Lately, my book
Surface Water Quality
Modeling has been serving as my course notes. The book's coverage is broad
enough that it allows me to customize the course to the needs of the attendees.
For example, I've emphasized particular waterbodies (e.g.,
streams), pollutants (e.g., nutrients) or models (e.g.,
QUAL2K) for specific audiences. At other
times, the sponsors have wanted a broad overview or introduction to the field.
Finally, I try to mix lectures with hands-on modeling. This usually means that
to be the most effective, the workshop site should have enough personal
computers or laptops (usually two people per machine is optimal) so that everybody has
hands-on experience to reinforce the lectures. This approach has been expedited
recently by the widespread availability of notebook computers. I have a
substantial library of
my own user-friendly water quality models that are distributed to course
participants. If you would like to discuss the possibility of my conducting a
workshop in conjunction with your organization, please e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. My fee is
negotiable, particularly if there's some quality fishing experience and
excellent local cuisine associated with my visit. And any courses in Alaska or
Hawaii get a special discount.
I have published several textbooks with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and
Waveland Press. As described below, the 7th edition of
Numerical Methods for Engineers is the most recent.
Numerical Methods for Engineers, 7th Ed.
(ISBN-13: 978-0-07-339792-4). The seventh edition of Numerical
Methods for Engineers (McGraw-Hill) presents a comprehensive
exposition of numerical methods commonly used in engineering. The
coverage includes equation solving, optimization, curve fitting,
numerical integration and differentiation and the solution of both
ordinary and partial differential equations. Along with material on
MATLAB and Excel/VBA, the new edition includes Mathcad applications.
In addition, the text has been updated to reflect improvements in
MATLAB and Excel since the last edition. Also, new and more
challenging problems are included. The expanded breadth of
engineering disciplines covered is especially evident in the
problems, which now cover such areas as biotechnology and biomedical
engineering. For more information contact McGraw-Hill or consult the
book's home page.
Applied Numerical Methods with MATLAB for Engineers and
Scientists, 3rd Ed. (ISBN-13:978-0-07-340110-2). The
third edition of Applied Numerical Methods with MATLAB
(McGraw-Hill) is written for scientists and engineers who
want to learn numerical methods problem solving with special
emphasis on the powerful MATLAB software package. The
coverage includes equation solving, optimization, curve
fitting, numerical integration and differentiation and the
solution of ordinary differential equations. For more
information contact McGraw-Hill or consult the
book's home page.
Surface-Water Quality Modeling (ISBN-13:978-1-57766-605-9).
This volume represents a comprehensive overview of
transport-and-fate modeling of pollutants in natural surface waters The book
provides an introduction to modeling fundamentals (mass balance, kinetics,
transport, etc.) along with in-depth descriptions of how a variety of pollutants
(pathogens, oxygen-demanding organics, nutrients, toxics and heat) move and
react within a variety of water bodies (streams, lakes, and estuaries). I've
tried to write the book in a "student-friendly" lecture format that facilitates
self-learning. Each lecture contains numerous worked examples and homework
exercises. The text strives to balance traditional analytical models with more
recent computer-oriented approaches. Several lectures, as well as an appendix,
are devoted to numerical (that is, computer-oriented) modeling methods. Beyond
its strong computer orientation, several lectures include coverage of advanced
modeling topics such as protozoan (e.g., Giardia)
pollution, and sediment processes. For more information
contact Waveland Press or consult the
Introduction to VBA for Excel, 2nd Ed. (ISBN-13:978-0-13-239667-7).
This book provides an introduction to Visual Basic for Applications, which is currently
the macro language for Microsoft Windows. The book focuses on the use of VBA with Excel
to allow engineers and scientists to develop custom user interfaces for numerically
oriented programs. The current edition has been updated to be compatible with Excel 2007.
If you would like more information or have suggestions on any of these texts,
please contact Pearson or consult the
book's home page.
For a complete copy of Dr. Chapra's resumé, please
send him an email, and he will be
happy to send you an MS-Word or text file.