Aubert, Jean

SUBJECT AREA: Canals, Civil engineering
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b. 7 February 1894 Paris, France
d. 25 November 1984 Paris, France
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French civil engineer.
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Aubert was educated at the Lycée Louis-leGrand in Paris, and entered the Ecole Polytechnique in 1913. His studies were interrupted by the First World War, when he served as an artillery officer, being wounded twice and awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1916. He returned to the Ecole Polytechnique in 1919, and from 1920 to 1922 he attended the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées; he graduated as Bachelor of Law from the University of Paris.
In 1922 he began his long career, devoted principally to river and canal works. He was engineer in charge of the navigation works in Paris until 1932; he was then appointed Professor in the Chair of Internal Navigation at the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, a post he held until his retirement in 1961. From 1933 to 1945 he was general manager and later chairman of the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône; from 1945 to 1953, chairman of the electricity board of the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer français; and from 1949 to 1967, chairman of the Rhine Navigation Company. Following his retirement, he was chairman of the Société des Constructions des Batignolles, and from 1966 consulting engineer and honorary chairman of SPIE Batignolles; he was also chairman of several other companies.
In 1919 he published La Probabilité dans les tires de guerre, for which he was awarded the Pierson-Perrim prize by the Académie des Sciences in 1922. During his career he wrote numerous articles and papers on technical and economic subjects, his last, entitled "Philosophic de la pente d'eau", appearing in the journal Travaux in 1984 when he was ninety years old.
Aubert's principal works included the construction of the Pont Edouard-Herriort on the Rhône at Lyon; the design and construction of the Génissiat and Lonzères-Mondragon dams on the Rhône; and the conception and design of the Denouval dam on the Seine near Andresy, completed in 1980. He was awarded the Caméré prize in 1934 by the Académie des Sciences for a new type of movable dam. Overseas governments and the United Nations consulted him on river navigation inter alia in Brazil, on the Mahanadi river in India, on the Konkomé river in Guinea, on the Vistula river in Poland, on the Paraguay river in South America and others.
In 1961 he published his revolutionary ideas on the pente d'eau, or "water slope", which was designed to eliminate delays and loss of water in transferring barges from one level to another, without the use of locks. This design consisted of a sloping flume or channel through which a wedge of water, in which the barge was floating, was pushed by a powered unit. A prototype at Mon tech on the Canal Latéral at La Garonne, bypassing five locks, was opened in 1973. A second was opened in 1984 on the Canal du Midi at Fonserannes, near Béziers.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Croix de Guerre 1916. Académie des Sciences: Prix Pierson-Perrim 1922, Prix Caméré 1934. Ingénieur Général des Ponts et Chaussées 1951. Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur 1960.
Further Reading
David Tew, 1984, Canal Inclines and Lifts, Gloucester: Alan Sutton.
JHB

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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