Established in 1894 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Alden was the third university hydraulic laboratory formed in the United States. Initial interest in hydraulics was driven by the emerging hydro power industry. Professor George I. Alden chose the Holden site as the laboratory's location because it retained water rights to a 200-acre reservoir for saw, grist, and woolen mills and it was relatively close to WPI. These early years were marked by great advances in hydro power technology.
The breadth of fluid dynamics challenges addressed at the laboratory started early, with the design, manufacturing, and testing of some of the first military aircraft propellers for the War Department in 1911, before World War I. Alden also contributed to the war effort in the 1940s through studies of the physics of the entry of projectiles into water. Early high speed photography equipment was developed for use with strobe lights to document the effect of projectile shape on entry stability in large glass sided tanks.
During the 1950s, the increase in power use demanded expansion of generation capacity and led to increased use of physical models for solving problems with circulating water systems, including the use of hydro thermal modeling to meet water quality requirements. This need resulted in the construction of 10 large test buildings at the Holden facility to house these models. Physical models were applied to various flow problems such as pump intakes, emergency core cooling sumps, riverine problems, etc.
The issuance of the Clean Air Act in 1967 and the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969 ushered in a new focus of studies at Alden that continues to this day. Alden formed an Environmental Engineering and Services Group in 1994 which has grown steadily to meet the increasing demands of industry. In 1996, a Numeric Modeling Group was created to keep Alden up-to-date on state-of-the-art computer modeling techniques. In 1999, air modeling capabilities were expanded, and the Gas Flow Engineering Services group was formed offering extensive physical and numerical modeling capabilities.
In 2007 we opened an office in Ft. Collins, Colorado to better service our clients in the heartland of North America.
In 2012, Alden acquired AECOM’s hydraulic engineering and modeling laboratory in Redmond, WA with a satellite office in Portland, OR. Combining their modeling talents and fisheries knowledge, this merger created the largest commercial hydraulic engineering laboratory system in North America.
Being mindful of our client’s needs, Alden will continue to evolve as our industry grows and matures.