Civil Engineering

William Kamphuis

William Kamphuis

Emeritus Professor

369 Union Street
Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 2R4
Tel: (613) 542-7787
Fax: (613) 533-2128

William Kamphuis


Dr. Kamphuis is an Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering.  His research covers

  1. hydraulic modelling of coastal sediment transport
  2. numerical modelling of coastal sediment transport and coastal morphology
  3. long wave motion in the swash zone and in experimental facilities
  4. the study of design wave of structures in shallow water
  5. the development of equipment to improve water quality in marinas and,
  6. the study of fish habitat near coastal structures
  7. the study of uncertainty in design
  8. the relationships between coastal engineering practice and education
  9. the study of design of resilience into coastal projects

He has also published extensively on the history of coastal engineering, dispute resolution on coastal projects, and coastal engineering project approvals.


Recent Publications


Introduction to Coastal Engineering and Management (2nd Edition) 2010

Website: http://www.worldscibooks.com/engineering/7021.html

This book is based on the author's 34 years of experience as a teacher/researcher of coastal engineering and management and on recent reflections on newly relevant issues, such as consequences of failure, impacts of rising sea levels, aging infrastructure, real estate development, and contemporary decision making, design and education.

This textbook for undergraduate students, postgraduate students and practicing engineers covers waves, structures, sediment movement, coastal management, and contemporary coastal design and decision making, presenting both basic principles and engineering solutions. It discusses the traditional methods of analysis and synthesis (design), but also contemporary design taking into account environmental impacts, consequences of failure, and current concerns such as global warming, aging infrastructure, working with stakeholder groups, regulators, etc.

This second edition expands greatly on the topics of failure and resilience that surfaced as a result of recent disasters from hurricane surges and tsunamis. It updates the discussion of design and decision making in the 21st century, with many new examples presented.

  • Water Waves
  • Short-Term Wave Analysis
  • Long-Term Wave Analysis
  • Wave Generation
  • Wave Transformation and Breaking
  • Tides and Water Levels
  • Rare Extraneous Events
  • Design of Structures
  • Breakwaters
  • Introduction to Coastal Management
  • Coastal Sediment Transport
  • Basic Shore Processes
  • Coastal Design
  • One-Dimensional Modeling of Coastal Morphology
  • Shore Protection
  • Contemporary Concepts
  • Problems

Readership: Undergraduate and graduate students, researchers and academics in coastal engineering and management.

Pub. date: May 2010 
ISBN: 978-981-283-484-3 

Selected Recent Publications and Presentations

This page provides links to Dr. J.W. Kamphuis' recent papers and accompanying presentations. 

Engineering is not Science

Presentation - YCSEC Conference, Kingston, Canada, 12-15 June 2016.

Abstract:  This presentation begins with a discussion of the complex tasks of contemporary engineering: system design, where the system consists of a physico-environmental subsystem + a socio-economic subsystem; contemporary decision-making; other contemporary concepts such as a re-definition of failure resulting in the concepts of ‘living with failure’, mitigation, adaptation, risk and total minimum cost analysis, and introduction of resilience.  The presentation concludes with an assessment of the over-emphasis of the science component of engineering in today’s university education of engineers, when compared to the importance of other engineering skills such as design, communication, knowledge of construction, management, etc.

Coastal Modeling, a Retrospective

Paper and Presentation - Coastlab 16, Ottawa, Canada, 10-13 May 2016.

PDF document

Abstract:  This paper discusses the basics of coastal models (both physical and numerical).  Then it introduces the learning curve for coastal science and engineering and we discover that we have entered its ‘old age’.  The next topic is how to proceed with coastal engineering in 2016 and finally the paper returns to discuss physical models of coastal processes and their unique qualities as a research and teaching tool.

Dealing With Climate Impact

Paper and Presentation - IAHR 2015, The Hague, Netherlands, 29 June - 3 July, 2015

PDF document

Abstract: This paper discusses the background of Climate Change (CC) research and how CC impacts Coastal/Fluvial professionals. It notes that our professional interest is really in Climate Impact (CI), rather than CC, and that there is very little good information on CI. The three main thrusts of the paper are: 1) How our education system needs to be changed if it is to supply enough competent young professionals in the near future to deal with CI. 2) How to learn about CI, through a highly focused and closely coordinated research program to collect and analyze data from recent incidents of CI. 3) How Coastal/Fluvial professionals must work hard at a number of levels so that both the above needs will be recognized and adequately met.

What do we do now?

Paper and Presentation - Coastal Sediments 2015, San Diego, US, 12 - 15 May, 2015

PDF document

Abstract: This paper attempts a long-term look at how Coastal Professionals should deal with Climate Change (CC) and Climate Impact (CI). It consists of 2 parts – ‘The Past and the Present’, and ‘The Future’. Part 1 traces the history of standard coastal design methodology, the IPCC’s CC research, the debate around it and how the results affect coastal science and design. Part 2 discusses the time frame to be considered and the urgency of CI. It names six crucially important requirements to be able to proceed into the future. These are: 1. To produce the knowledge and people needed to deal with future CI, university research and teaching cultures need to change fundamentally. 2. We must now increase our knowledge about dealing with CI. 3. The research into CI and design methods must be international, completely focused and closely coordinated. 4. All newfound insights must be shared as soon as possible. 5. A strong international group must be appointed to supervise the research into CI. 6. Funding must be arranged through the beneficiaries of this CI research.

Uncertainty, Research, Science and Engineering in Coastal Dynamics

Paper and Presentation - Coastal Dynamics 2013, Arcachon, France, 25 - 28 June, 2013

PDF document

Abstract: This paper develops a model for understanding uncertainties in coastal dynamics and analyzes our definitions and methodologies of coastal research, science and engineering against this model. It examines the different research cultures of academia and practice and identifies the need for more co-operation between these two.

Coastal Engineering Education and Coastal Models

Paper and Presentation - 33rd International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE) in Santander July 1-6, 2012

PDF document

Abstract: This paper discusses how coastal engineers are educated and how that must be changed in order to be able to meet the future demands for coastal engineers. It also addresses the use of coastal models as a vital tool to demonstrate concepts and processes that are not innately familiar to the students.

Coastal Engineering - Theory and Practice

Keynote presentation - Coastal Sediments 2011, Miami, USA, May 2-6, 2011

PDF document

Abstract: This paper attempts to identify from historical and sociological perspectives how coastal engineering has developed. Particular attention is paid to how its theory and practice have developed and are becoming alienated so that they no longer complement each other. It concludes with some possible methods to preclude further separation and bring about possible symbiosis.

Moving Forward with (Coastal) Engineering Practice and Education

Keynote presentation at the CSCE Annual Meeting in St. John's Newfoundland, May 28-30, 2009

Moving Forward with (Coastal) Design and Management

Keynote presentation at the Triennial meeting of ASCE, ICE and CSCE in St. John's Newfoundland on June 1 and 2, 2009

Coastal System Resilience

Paper and presentation at the 31st International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE) in Hamburg (2008)

PDF document

Abstract: This paper addresses some important concepts related to contemporary design. First, it recognizes that failure-proof design is not always possible, as witnessed by recent disastrous failures. Then it discusses contemporary decision making. It introduces the necessity for system design and defines a coastal system consisting of Physico-Environmental Subsystems (PES), supported by a Socio-Economic Subsystem (SES). It discusses failure and the necessity to design resilience throughout the system to deal with such failure. It also describes the different design requirements resulting from the expectations of the individuals and the collective (government) within the system. Finally, it presents an example, outlining the options available for a resilient re-design of New Orleans.

Perspective on Coastal Engineering Practice and Education (2008)

Chapter 41 in "Handbook of Coastal and Ocean Engineering", World Scientific Press

PDF document

Abstract: This perspective traces recent developments in coastal and civil engineering practice and in coastal engineering education. It notes that engineering has changed substantially and that engineers are not educated for the contemporary tasks they face. It states that changes must be made urgently, but that they must be made within the confines dictated by a global market. It then offers a number of alternatives to bring about closer cooperation between practice and education in order to provide better engineering education that is more relevant to the needs of engineering practice.

Beyond The Limits of Coastal Engineering (2006)

International Conference on Coastal Engineering (2006), September 2006, San Diego.

PDF document

Abstract: The limits of coastal engineering are technical in nature (uncertainties) as well as socio-political (projects may be rejected by the approvals processes and by the courts). We identify two types of approval processes and called them traditional and contemporary. The traditional process is shown to have certain advantages (projects are approved) and obvious deficiencies in evaluating environmental impacts. The contemporary process is studied in some detail and the paper identifies from experience where this process fails, how it might be improved and how engineers must contribute to the process to improve the likelihood of project approval.

Three limits of coastal engineering are identified in this paper. First, the traditional approval processes often result in daring, experimental designs, which test the limit of existing coastal science and engineering knowledge. Second, contemporary project approvals require assessments of impacts with greater accuracy than we can provide. This limit of present knowledge in science and engineering is reached because the uncertainties in our data, models and computations. Because of substantial uncertainties assessment of a project becomes necessarily a combination of objective input (hard numbers) and subjective input (experience). Since the public and legal processes have great difficulty understanding uncertainties and trusting subjective decisions, projects are easily delayed, postponed or cancelled, either because of the uncertainties in the results or often because the contemporary approval process provides too many opportunities for opponents to block the project. This is a third limit to engineering discussed.

Pushing the Limits of Coastal Engineering (2005)

Keynote address and presentation at the Arabian Coasts 2005 Conference, Dubai.

PDF document

Abstract: This paper concentrates on three limits of engineering reached at the project approval stage. First, it identifies two types of approval processes - called traditional andcontemporary. The paper describes the traditional process, its advantages (projects are approved) and its obvious deficiencies in evaluating environmental impacts. Then it analyses the contemporary process in some detail and identifies from experience where the process fails, how the process might be improved and how engineers can contribute to the process to improve the likelihood of project approval. The limits of coastal engineering are reached in three ways. First, traditional approval processes often result in daring, experimental designs, which test the limit of existing coastal science and engineering knowledge. Second, contemporary project approvals require assessments of impacts with such accuracy that they test the limits of present knowledge in science and engineering. The measurements and calculations for such impact assessments contain substantial uncertainties and therefore the assessment becomes necessarily a combination of objective input (hard numbers) and subjective input (experience). Because the numbers alone cannot provide the complete assessment, the public or project opponents can easily say that the studies are worthless. Any legal process also has great difficulty understanding uncertainties. This results in a third limit to engineering; the fact that many projects are delayed, postponed or cancelled, either because of the uncertainties in the results or because the contemporary approval process provides too many opportunities for opponents to block the project.

Coastal Engineering - Quo Vadis? (2004, 2005)

Presentation at the Battjes Symposium, Delft, Netherlands (2004). Published in Coastal Engineering (2005)

PDF document

This paper traces the development of coastal engineering, drawing parallels with history of civilization and development of society in general. It recognises three distinct ages - those of providence, progress and nihilism. It recalls the impact of the enlightenment and describes the rise of the modern era, in which coastal engineering has its roots; the time with the underlying motto "yes we can!" Next, we follow the move to postmodernism where we find that our models have practical limits, that there are no single, correct answers and that good coastal engineering is not necessarily good. We explore the concepts of uncertainty, pluralism and sustainability. Finally, we attempt to find some direction to proceed with coastal education, research and management within the postmodern environment.