Alden Dedicates the Taft Fisheries Research and Test Facility

Alden Research Laboratory, Inc. (Alden) has dedicated one of its fish testing facilities to Edward P. (Ned) Taft III, a former president of the company and a pioneer in the field of fisheries biology. 

In a ceremony held at the Alden headquarters on October 18, Alden dedicated one of its unique fish testing facilities (formerly “Building 15”) to former president, Ned Taft. Current president Stuart Cain described how the building has undergone many changes since first being constructed for hydraulic modeling in the 1970’s, followed by testing of nuclear power plant emergency containment sumps in the early 1980’s. Ned Taft oversaw the reconstruction of the building early in the last decade to house a pilot scale Alden Fish Friendly Turbine for testing with live fish, an effort funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. After completion of that project, the facility was redeployed to create a water flume with a 10 ft. by 20 ft. cross-section and a flow capacity of up to 500 cubic feet per second. In recent years, this flume has been used for testing hydrokinetic turbines, fish bypass systems, traveling water screens with fish collection features for thermal power plants, and other under water devices.

The Alden principals believed that the still active laboratory building makes a fitting memorial to Taft, who passed away after battling brain cancer in 2009. He was a nationally recognized fisheries biologist with degrees from Brown University and Northeastern University. He started his career at Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation during the 1970’s when the Clean Water Act forced electrical utilities to consider the impact of cooling water withdrawal on fish and other aquatic species. He designed innovative field and laboratory experiments to predict fish survival and behavior associated with a range of fish protection systems. He also helped to develop the Modular Inclined Screen technology to divert fish away from water intakes. He did much of his pioneering work at Alden and eventually joined the company in 1994 as a Vice President, building what has become a world-renowned environmental sciences group. In 2000, he succeeded George Hecker as president and led the company through an unprecedented period of growth, nearly tripling the number of employees over an eight year period.

The ceremony on Tuesday, which renamed the building “The Taft Fisheries Research and Test Facility,” was preceded by a short workshop on the status of Section 316 (b) of the U.S. Clean Water Act and associated compliance strategies. During the ceremony, current president Stuart Cain was joined by Ray Tuttle, Alden Senior Fisheries Biologist, and Doug Dixon, Water Resources Manager at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), who spoke briefly about Taft’s contributions and the importance of the past and ongoing work in the building. A plaque was placed by Taft’s adult children, Betsey and Ben.

“It is obvious that a significant synergy exists between the history of Building 15 and the legacy of Ned as an innovator, researcher and leader,” remarked Cain. “We owe a tremendous debt to his contributions.”

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