Department of

Civil and Environmental Engineering



Kavanagh Lecture - Biographical Sketch

The Sixteenth Thomas C. Kavanagh Memorial Structural Engineering Lecture

April 2, 2009

7:30 pm

122 Alumni Hall, HUB-Robeson Center

Local Sediment Scour at Bridge Foundations


D. Max Sheppard
President, Ocean Engineering Associates Inc.
Professor Emeritus of Civil and Coastal Engineering,
University of Florida


Dr. Sheppard received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 1969 and joined the Engineering Science and Mechanics Department at the University of Florida as an Assistant Professor. Throughout his education, years as a researcher, and later as a practicing engineer, his interests have focused on topics related to fluid mechanics, fluid-structure interaction and the response of structures to hydrodynamic loading. Soon after joining the University of Florida, he became interested in coastal and ocean applications of fluid mechanics. He was later given a joint appointment in the Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering Department which, at that time, was a graduate department only. He advanced through the ranks of Associate and Full Professorship and later became Chairman of the Department and Director of the Coastal Laboratory at the University of Florida. His early research concentrated on flow stability, internal waves, ocean thermal energy conversion, coastal processes, aeolian sand transport and response of floating structures to currents and waves. In 1981, on leave of absence from the University, he joined Mobil Research and Development Corporation in Dallas, Texas as head of their physical oceanography/ocean engineering program. During his three year tenure in this position, he worked on many interesting meteorological and oceanographic problems. His group’s responsibilities included providing the design water elevation, wave, current, and wind loads for Mobil’s offshore and coastal structures. His group also served as consultants in these areas to Mobil’s affiliates worldwide. He returned to the University of Florida in 1984 and resumed his teaching and research. In the late 1980s, he became interested in structure-induced sediment scour and bridge scour in general. Since that time, a portion of his research has been devoted to this topic. Much of this work has been and continues to be experimental. He has conducted experiments in a number of hydraulics laboratories including the University of Florida, Colorado State University, University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand and the USGS Conte Laboratory in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. He and his students developed scour depth prediction equations for both simple and complex structures. These are required for use on all Florida DOT bridges and are being used by several other states as well. During the past five years, he has also been involved in research associated with storm surge and wave loading on bridge superstructures. Predictive equations for storm surge and wave loading on bridge superstructures developed by Dr. Sheppard and one of his Ph.D. students were recently accepted by AASHTO for their codes on this topic. He has given numerous conference presentations, published journal papers, conducted short courses, and directed numerous Masters and Ph.D. student research projects over the course of his career.

His engineering consulting firm, Ocean Engineering Associates, Inc. (OEA, Inc.) was founded in 1988. Under his leadership, OEA has grown from a modest, one-person, part-time operation to a nationally recognized leader in the arena of bridge scour and coastal hydraulics. The firm conducts research and engineering in the areas of coastal hydraulics, sediment transport, hydraulic and sediment transport modeling, coastal structure design, storm surge hindcasting, bridge hydraulics/sediment scour, and wave loading.