John Ripley Freeman (July 27, 1855 – October 6, 1932) was an American civil and hydraulic engineer. He is known for the design of several waterworks and was president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and presidents of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Freeman was born in West Bridgton, Maine on his father's farm. He attended the country school in his hometown, and public schools in Portland, and Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1872 he started studying civil engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he obtained his BSc in 1878. He received his Bachelor of Science at, Department of Civil Engineering in June 1876.
After graduation in 1878 Freeman started his career at the Essex water power company as assistant to the company's engineer, Hiram F. Mills. In those days he became acquainted with other leading engineers such as Charles Storer Storrow, James B. Francis, Joseph R. Davis and John C. Hoadley. In 1886, he moved to Boston to the Associated Mutual Fire Insurance Company, where he was appointed engineer and inspector. In the next decennia Freeman was the design engineer for several water projects, participated in several water works commissions, and was consulting engineer in many parties.
Freeman van president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and presidents of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was also the founder and president of Massachusetts Mutual Fire Insurance Company. He was a member of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics during World War I, and served as chairman from 1918–1919.
Freeman received numerous honorary degrees. He received Doctor of Science degrees from Brown University in 1904; from Tufts College in 1905; from the Sachsischen Technischen Hochschule, Dresden, Germany, June 1925; from the University of Pennsylvania in 1927; and from Yale University in 1931. in 1922 he was awarded the ASME Medal.
Freeman was elected Honorary Member Phi Beta Kappa at Brown University in 1901; Member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1918; Honorary Member of the Marsaryk Academy of Works, Czecho-Slovakia in 1926; Ehrenbürger (Honorary Member) der Badischen Technischen Hochschule, Karlsruhe, Germany in January 1929; Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats des Forschungs-Institutes in München und Walchcnsee, Bavaria, Germany in January 1931; and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Freeman is noted for his efforts to design and build the Charles River Dam, advising the government on dam and lock foundations for the Panama Canal, and influencing the design of MIT's new campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Freeman was the design engineer for several water projects, including the Lake Spaulding Dam, the Holter Dam, the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, the Charles River Dam, the Keokuk Dam, the Los Angeles Aqueduct[verification needed], and the Panama Canal.
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