The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Immediate

New book documents long reach of UI's Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- From household plumbing fixtures to Tokyo's drainage systems, the University of Iowa's Institute of Hydraulic Research (IIHR) has improved the quality of life for millions of people around the world.

And now a newly released book about the UI College of Engineering's world-renowned facility documents that research and describes the lives of the people who made it possible.

The book, Flowing Through Time: A History of the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research, tells how IIHR research not only reshaped plumbing fixtures and drainage systems, but also improved our understanding of such fields as ship hydrodynamics, climatology, and the fundamentals of fluid flow. Written by Cornelia F. Mutel, IIHR staff historian, the book covers the nearly-80-year history of one of the world's premier hydraulic research institutes.

To write the book, Mutel notes that she searched the university's archives and interviewed many IIHR staff members and their families. "In the process, I became engrossed with the people who performed research here," she says. "Their passion for the study of water's flow became my own. I tried to write the book to show the personalities involved and their love for the subject. I also strove to relate events here to notable historical and social trends."

The result is an energized story about people and thoughts as well as events. It describes former IIHR directors such as Hunter Rouse and John F. Kennedy, who spread IIHR's reputation around the world. The book sets IIHR's activities within the larger context. It explains, for example, how World War II realigned IIHR's research direction and funding sources, and how the environmental emphasis of the 1970s sparked major new initiatives in the search for alternative energy sources.

The book will be of interest not only to engineers and history buffs, but also to anyone concerned with human interactions with the natural environment. Mutel, who has written several other environmental books focusing on Iowa, is also the author of the acclaimed Fragile Giants, a look at western Iowa's Loess Hills.

Flowing Through Time (299 pages plus 80 photos, paper, $20 plus shipping and handling, ISBN 0-87414-108-7) can be ordered from the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1585 (phone 319-335-5239; E-mail, For additional information or to request a review copy, contact Twila Meder at the above phone number.