Nels Nelson received his B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. At Barr Engineering, he eventually came to be head of the Water Resources group and chairman of the company's Board of Directors. In these roles, he became known for his industry knowledge, broad perspective, forward-looking analyses, probing questions and quick wit.
Established by Barr Engineering in memory of Nels, the Nels P. Nelson Fellowship, an endowment for Civil Engineering graduate students at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. The fellowship provides a monetary award to support the tuition and academic research needs of the student.