The History of Leichtweiß-Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources

The Leichtweiß-Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources at Technische Universität Braunschweig, Faculty of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences, is named after the founder of the laboratory for hydraulic research, Dr.-Ing. h.c. Dr.-Ing. Ludwig Leichtweiß. The research and teaching activities of the Leichtweiß-Institute cover today the fields of hydraulic and coastal engineering, hydromechanics, hydrology, water management and protection, and waste and resource management.

The Technical University "Carolo-Wilhelmina" at Braunschweig origins from the "Collegium Carolinum" which was founded in 1745 and is considered as the oldest German Technical University (Technische Hochschule). The department of hydraulic engineering looks back on a tradition of 180 years of academic life. Lectures on hydromechanics and open channel flow, which were related to hydraulic engineering, have been started by Prof. Braun in the winter semester 1823/1824. In 1850 Prof. Ahlburg as his successor extended the teaching activity to the fields of river works, harbour engineering, irrigation and drainage, navigation channels and water conduits. He was followed by Prof. Haeseler, Prof. von Wagner, and Prof. Arnold.

Dr.-Ing. h.c. Dr. techn h.c.Hubert Engels succeeded as professor at Braunschweig in1887 and switched over to the Technical University at Dresden in 1890, because a hydraulic laboratory at the Technische Universität Braunschweig was refused to him due to financial constraints. Seven years later Engels established the first permanent hydraulic laboratory at the University Dresden. In 1898 the Privy Council Dr.-Ing. h.c. Möller, as his successor, had established a small hydraulic laboratory at the Technische Universität Braunschweig by means of financial support from industry. The open air laboratory was primarily used as teaching aid for lectures in hydraulics and river engineering during the summer semesters. It consisted of two flumes of 10 m x 1.8 m and 8 m x 0.5 m, respectively.

Prof Dr.-Ing. E.h. Dr.-Ing. Ludwig Leichtweiß assumed the chair of hydraulic engineering in 1925. Faced with the insufficient hydraulic experimental facilities he built, close to the place of the existing open air laboratory, a new hydraulic laboratory by the assistance of the industry and other sponsors. In 1939 the hydraulic laboratory, which had a roof area of 430 m2, came into operation. It comprised space for physical models, a tilting flume of 40 m x 6m x 0.8 m and a channel of 44 m x 1.5 m x 1.4 m. During World War II the laboratory was damaged, repaired, and in 1947 reopened. Dr. Ir. h.c. Dr.-Ing. Friedrich Zimmermann was nominated as professor in 1950 and in 1958 he added an extension to the existing laboratory, and the total roof area was enlarged to 700 m2.

Professor Dr. Ir. h. c. Dr.-Ing. Friedrich Zimmermann, 1950 - 1971
Professor Dr.-Ing. E. h. Dr.-Ing. Ludwig Leichtweiß, 1925 - 1950

Professor Dr. Ir. h. c. Dr.-Ing. Friedrich Zimmermann and Dr.-Ing. e.h. Dr.-Ing. Ludwig Leichtweiß

During the period of service of Prof. Zimmermann four departments have been built up, which took care of research and teaching in the fields of hydraulic and coastal engineering, hydrology, water resources engineering, irrigation, drainage and waste management. At his retirement in 1971 the four departments formed an institute for hydraulic engineering. In memoriam of the merits of Leichtweiß Prof. Zimmermann renamed the hydraulic laboratory and the associated various research departments with their own specific laboratories to "Leichtweiß-Institute for Hydraulic Engineering". Prof. Zimmermann's merit is that he started to enlarge the physical facilities for research in the field of integrated water and resources management by establishing a new institutional building. In 1969 the planning of new buildings for the institute has been started and four years later the Leichtweiß-Institute moved into the new buildings, comprising a hydraulic laboratory with a roof area of 5600 m2, various laboratories for water quality, soil science, waste management, etc., and a wing for offices.

After the retirement of Prof. Zimmermann, in 1971 Dr.-Ing. Dr.sc. h.c.G. Garbrecht, appointed as professor to the chair of hydraulic engineering, and Dr.-Ing. A. Führböter, nominated as professor to the chair of hydromechanics and coastal engineering, shared in directorate of the Leichtweiß-Institute. According to the law for the universities in Lower Saxony the chairs were renamed into departments and since 1978 the directorate is rotating between the professors. Professor Dr.-Ing. U. Drewes assumed the Department of Hydraulic Engineering in 1988. He retired in 2002 and was succeeded by Professor Dr.-Ing. habil. A. Dittrich. In 1994, Professor Dr.-Ing. H. Oumeraci was appointed as successor of Professor Führböter. The subject area "Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering", which was headed by Professor Dr.agr. G. Schaffer, was affiliated to the Leichtweiß-Institute during the years 1961 to 1987.

The importance of water resources required a capacity building, which was satisfied by establishing two further departments: (i) irrigation and drainage and waste management, established in 1965 and headed by Professor Dr.Ing. H.-J. Collins from 1971 to 1999; and (ii) hydrology and water management, which was lead by Professor Dr.-Ing. U. Maniak from 1971 to 2004. Since 1999 Professor Dr. K. Fricke, as successor of Prof Dr.-Ing. H. Collins, is the head of the Department of Waste and Resource Management. In 2004 Professor Dr.-Ing. G. Meon succeeded Prof. Dr.-Ing. U. Maniak and acts as head of the department of Hydrology, Water Management and Water Protection. In January 2018 Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. N. Goseberg took over the division of Hydromechanics and Coastal Engineering which was renamed in November 2018 in "Hydromechanics, Coastal and Ocean Engineering".

The Leichtweiß-Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources comprises at present four departments:

Hydraulic Engineering and River Morphology (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jochen Aberle)

Hydrology, Water Managment and Water Protection (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Günter Meon)

Hydromechanics, Coastal and Ocean Engineering (Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Nils Goseberg)

Waste and Resource Management (Prof. Dr. Klaus Fricke)