Emeritus Spotlight: Ray Canale

News date: 
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Emeritus Professor Ray Canale is co-author of Numerical Methods for Engineers and Introduction to Computing for Engineers. The numerical methods text, now in its 6th edition, has been adopted by over 100 engineering programs in the United States and has reached an extensive international market.

Canale wrote the textbooks along with CEE alumnus Professor Steven Chapra. At the time, there wasn’t an appropriate introductory numerical methods book available to undergraduate engineering students. The material in existing texts was difficult to apply to their projects.

“We knew there was a gap that needed to be filled,” Canale says.

After filling that gap, Canale and Chapra were awarded with the Meriam/Wiley Distinguished Author Award in 1987 from the American Society for Engineering Education.

In the classroom, Canale developed and taught a two-course sequence on stream, lake, and estuarine analysis at the graduate level.  He also authored two textbooks on aquatic ecosystems and biological waste treatment.

It was nearly unheard of during earlier years to apply mathematical models to biological and chemical systems. While a graduate student, Canale began to think about such an approach after reading about wolf and moose predator-prey studies conducted on Isle Royale.  These studies, and the classical work of Lotka-Volterra, intrigued Canale and inspired him to use a mathematical approach to describe biochemical systems, ultimately leading to his textbooks and course sequence.  Recently, he has published a number of articles on fish growth bioenergetic models that can be used to optimize salmonid production in hatcheries while minimizing the environmental impacts of waste by-products.

His advice for today’s students is to study statistics.

“Every project requires me to say something about the accuracy and precision of data. I wish I had taken a statistics class to learn more about the available tools to analyze the reliability of data.”

Since retiring from active faculty status in May 1995, Canale has relocated to Leelanau County in northwest Lower Michigan.  He also spends significant time in Colorado and Arizona.  He has climbed all 54 mountains in Colorado higher than 14,000 feet and has backpacked extensively in the Grand Canyon.

“I enjoy the feeling of being totally self-sufficient and knowing that my safety relies on my skills and focus.”


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