Waterworld: CMC Swimmer Interns with Metropolitan Water District

For the last two years, Management-Engineering major Ryan Kristensen ’11 has kicked up a lot of foam as a sprint event swimmer (50 and 100 yard freestyle and 100 yard butterfly) for CMS. And this summer, following form, he completed a 10-week internship with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

Although Kristensen is the first to admit that linking his MWD internship to his swimming duties is tenuous at best, water does seem to be a recurring motif in his life.

“As far as any relationship between MWD and swimming, if I were a distance swimmer, maybe I could somehow relate the fact that the Colorado River Aqueduct is approximately 242 miles long,” he says, laughing. “But seeing that I am a sprinter, I am not sure that there is too much of a correlation.”

Kristensen first learned of the internship opportunity last fall, and met all of the eligibility requirements for funding by a generous donor to the College.

Working with his academic advisor, professor of physics James C. Higdon, Kristensen applied for the summer research funding and in March received word that he was one of seven students chosen.

During the last week of school, Kristensen learned that his internship would involve research under the auspices of MWD and MWH Global (short for the firm’s previous name of Montgomery Watson Harza). Specifically, Kristensen would be conducting a feasibility study analyzing the potential for solar energy generation to help decrease MWD’s GHG emissions associated with operations along the Colorado River Aqueduct.

“I had biweekly meetings with MWD and MWH to discuss the progress I had made on my 55-page report, and to discuss ways I could receive any necessary information,” Kristensen says. “Those whom I worked with would then direct me to different people within MWD or MWH that I could correspond with throughout the week in order to obtain the information I needed.”

According to Kristensen, the nature of the research project placed a great amount of personal responsibility directly in his hands; so much that he found himself striving to solve problems on his own. “I’m grateful that MWD and MWH Global provided this opportunity and I know that my summer research work will be of value to MWD in respect to long-term energy planning strategies,” he says.

Further, Kristensen says that working with engineers at MWD and MWH Global has influenced his decision to devote the final 2 years of his major pursuing a degree in civil/environmental engineering. He is considering applying to various schools, including Columbia, USC, U.C. Berkeley, and Stanford for the fall of 2010.

This season will mark Kristensen’s third year swimming for CMS in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) events.

“For the past two years, the CMS swim team has brought home a dual SCIAC victory,” he says. “I am hoping that we can bring home a dual victory again this year, but I’m also looking forward to seeing what our 200 and 400 yard freestyle relays will look like this year.”

Kristensen says that being a student-athlete is relatively common on the CMC campus. “My swim coach, Charlie Griffiths, has been very supportive during the past few years, and recognizes that we all have interests outside of the pool,” Kristensen says. “As an example, Coach Charlie let me slide out of the pre-season meet lineup against UCSD this year so I could stay on campus and perform with some of my friends in the 5-C music festival.

“Coach Charlie trusts that we work our hardest to balance our time in the pool with both our academic schedules and our outside interests,” Kristensen adds. “When schedules conflict, Coach Charlie has plans A-Z’ to accommodate the situation.”

In return, Griffiths says Kristensen has been a great Stag during his CMS career, playing a critical role in the past two SCIAC championships.

“The CMC environment encourages students to excel in every area they pursue and Ryan exemplifies that,” Griffiths noted. “He’s also been able to take full advantage of CMC’s academic and internship opportunities, plus finds the time to enjoy other extra-curricular activities. I’m excited to see how his season and year plays out before he moves on to the next stage of his 3-2 program. We’re going to miss him.”