Civil Engineering Alumnus Heads ERDC River and Estuarine Branch

David P. May has led more than $6M in civil work and research through position at Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory

David P. May observes the Brazos River from a helicopter. Submitted photo

Growing up in Vicksburg, David P. May (BSCvE 14) watched his father work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center. Today, the University of Mississippi alumnus leads a laboratory at the same facility.

As acting chief of the River and Estuarine Engineering Branch at ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, May supervises 34 engineers and scientists. He also serves as the inland deputy program manager for the National Regional Sediment Management Program.

RSM focuses on the beneficial and environmentally sound management of the nation’s sediments as it relates to USACE’s missions of navigation and flood control. May is also a USACE scientific research scuba diver.

“Since graduation, I have completed approximately $6 million of USACE civil works and research efforts,” said May, who will earn his master’s degree in civil engineering from Louisiana State University in May.

“The majority of these efforts were focused on flood-risk management in the form of large-scale hydraulic numerical models on the Mississippi River and watershed stabilization.

“Simply put, I assess river systems that are eroding near critical flood-risk-management infrastructure, such as levees, and design stabilization that protects the infrastructure from failing due to the river’s erosion,” he said.

May credits his dad, James May, and UM for his work achievements.

“Dad worked at the geotechnical and structures laboratory at ERDC, and his career showcased to me all the good that the Army Corps of Engineers does for the country and its population,” May said. “Growing up in Vicksburg next to the Mississippi River, I knew that I wanted to somehow be involved with rivers. This led me to a student position at ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory.”

David P. May prepares to scuba dive off South Padre Island near Houston, Texas. Submitted photo

In that role, May met fellow Ole Miss graduate Ned Mitchell (BSCvE 00). Mitchell urged May to visit the Oxford campus during his senior year of high school.

“After one day on campus, my dad and I both agreed I could not pass up the opportunity to study civil engineering at Ole Miss,” May said. “The beautiful campus, modern facilities, student-to-faculty ratio and the overall charm of Oxford sold me.”

Among May’s favorite engineering faculty members are Marni Kendricks, interim associate dean for undergraduate academics; Jacob Najjar, chair and professor of civil engineering; and Waheed Uddin, professor of civil engineering and director of UM’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology.

“I wouldn’t have made it without Mrs. Kendricks’ guidance,” he said. “Dr. Najjar’s course on slope stability has served me immensely well in my career of river engineering. And I still try to emulate the drive and diligence Dr. Uddin exercised daily in his research efforts.”

May still resides in Vicksburg with his wife, Lauren, and their son, Briggs. He enjoys cheering on the Rebels in football and baseball. The family spends a lot of weekends camping around the state of Mississippi in their RV.

A supportive alumnus, May is working with School of Engineering officials to schedule a time when he or the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory recruiter can visit and talk with students. He also has proposed that a select group of interested students visit ERDC for a tour or interviews.

“Given the opportunities offered here at ERDC in Mississippi, I would really like to see more Ole Miss engineers make their way to ERDC.”

Kendricks said May is a model Ole Miss engineering alumnus.

“David is involved with some really cool stuff,” she said. “I’m so pleased to hear about his wonderful career path and opportunities he’s shared for other engineers.”