István Zsuffa was born in 1933 in Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary. His father Kalman Zsuffa was a well known hydraulic engineer specialized on irrigation issues. István Zsuffa graduated in 1956 at the Technical University of Budapest as a hydraulic engineer. He started his professional career at the Water Resources Research Center (VITUKI) under the leadership of Dr Woldemár Lászlóffy. His first tasks were hydrological forecasting for irrigation purposes. As a result of this work he developed new forecasting methods for which he received his PhD degree in 1962. Besides, he was also busy with collecting and analyzing hydro-meteorological data form an experimental catchment of the VITUKI. Since both forecasting and data analysis required adequate mathematical approach, Dr Zsuffa enrolled the mathematical study program of the Eötvös Lóránd University, where he graduated in 1964 as an applied mathematician.
From 1963 till 1966 Dr Zsuffa worked at the
Central-Transdanubian Water Authority in
Székesfehérvár. His first task was to collect and
analyze data from the experimental catchment of the Gaja brook. He was also
involved into the construction of two flood retention reservoirs. During this
work Dr Zsuffa and his colleague György Bukovszky developed a mathematical
statistical method for sizing flood retention reservoirs.
From 1966 till 1979 Dr Zsuffa worked at the Lower Danube-valley Water Authority (LDWA) in Baja as the leader of the planning and hydro-meteorological department. In 1972 Imre Dégen, the head of the National Water Authority, appointed him as the leader of first computer center of the Hungarian water management. This center belonged to the LDWA. Several talented young researches, such as Mihály Virág, Ottó Eszéky, Antal Gálai and László Goda, joined the center. Based on the theoretical work of Dr Zsuffa these researchers developed excellent softwares for hydrological statistical calculations. One of the most important products was a reservoir sizing software based on Moran’s method.
During this period of time Dr Zsuffa also took part in the flood defense works. During the great floods of the Danube in 1956 and 1965, he was commanding engineer of important dike sections. No dike ruptures occurred in these sections.
Besides his engineering career Dr. Zsuffa has also been involved into the education. In 1966 he was invited to teach hydrology at the Water Management College of Baja, where he has kept on teaching up till now. In 1992 he was appointed as full professor at the Technical University of Budapest. He was also the head of the Department of Water Management within the period of 1992-98.
After receiving the PhD in 1962, the next step in the scientific career of Dr Zsuffa was receiving the title ‘Candidate of Technical Sciences’. This title was awarded by the Hungarian Academy of Science after his research on reservoir sizing. Finally, in 1992, the Academy awarded him with the title ‘Doctor of Technical Sciences’ after his achievements in the field of mathematical-statistical analysis of water regimes of watercourses.
After a long lasting illness blocking him in doing his scientific and educational activities he died on 21. October, 2004.
Necrologs paying tribute to his unprecedented human personality said at the funeral by prof. Istvan Vagas and prof. Janos Jozsa are available under their names in Hungarian.
As a family member his human resources management contribution to global water management issues culminated in drifting his brother in law András Szöllösi-Nagy towards civil engineering and scientific water issues repeating thus his father's role motivating young prof Emil Mosonyi - "world renowned expert in hydropower" - who after Zsuffa's father's untimely decease helped him in his choice of professional calling as well. His younger son Istvan Zsuffa (jr) is researcher at VITUKI and is continuing his educational activities both in Budapest and Baja.