Charlie Neill passed away on Wednesday 27 July. Charlie joined NHC in 1975 and was active in the company until 2017. He was one of the most well-known NHC principals, being an international leader in bridge hydraulics having contributed to and edited the 1973 and 2001 versions of the Canadian Guide to Bridge Hydraulics, as well as numerous other technical documents including Hydrology of Floods in Canada, Ice Effects on Bridges, and the US Army Corps Channel Stability Assessment for Flood Control Projects. In 2014, Charlie was made a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada for his significant contribution to the development of hydrotechnical engineering as a separate area of study.
Charlie had the ability to keep complex things simple, based on first principles and with his deep understanding of hydraulics and sediment transport. He was a strong writer who was relentless in ensuring that his communications were concise, clear, and understandable by his target audience. He approached reviews of his colleagues’ work in the same manner. For younger engineers, this often led to some nervousness since Charlie would return drafts with extensive mark-ups – but these were done in a way that provided guidance to both the analytical capability and the writing skills of the recipient.
Charlie approached his work with integrity and a high degree of professionalism. He refused to work on assignments which contravened his values and was outspoken where business practices did not strictly comply with his ethics. In this, he guided the development of principles that define NHC today.
The family he knew at NHC will miss him and as an organization, we extend our deepest condolences to his family.