In Memoriam: Former UWRL & CEE Professor J. Paul Riley

July 6, 2021
UWRL Faculty Photo of J. Paul Riley
Faculty photo of J. Paul Riley

J. Paul Riley began his engineering education close to home in his native British Columbia, Canada then came to Utah State University specifically to study under O.W. Israelsen and pursue a Civil Engineer (CE) professional degree. He later returned to USU and the newly established Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL), where he completed his PhD then served as professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the UWRL until his retirement in 1993.

Throughout his distinguished career, Riley promoted an interdisciplinary and international approach to water research, engaging colleagues from across the campus in projects and working with professionals in countries throughout the world to address water resources challenges. Riley was a true pioneer in his field. His innovative use of hybrid (analog and digital) computers to simulate hydrologic and water resource management systems opened up significant new water research opportunities at USU and the UWRL.

Over many years, Riley actively participated in numerous organizations dedicated to supporting the work of water engineering professionals and students, including serving as a president and fellow member of the American Water Resources Association (AWRA). In recognition of his contributions to nurturing young engineers, the Utah Section of the AWRA instituted the J. Paul Riley Student Paper Competition that awards scholarships to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students in Utah.

Shortly before his death in July of 2021, Dr. Riley received the History and Heritage Award from the Utah Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers in recognition of his achievements and lifetime of work in the civil engineering profession.

UWRL staff and faculty remember Riley fondly for his can-do attitude, his hard work and dedication, but most of all for his kind and gentle nature. He was a friend to all he met.

See obituary details here.