Montana State University

MSU engineering student gets into water studies

March 10, 2004 -- by Jean Arthur, MSU News Service


Montana State University civil engineering student Brian Story of Bozeman travels the backcountry during a recent alpine adventure. (Photo courtesy of Story.)   High-Res Available

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Bozeman -- Brian Story is immersed in his studies.

Story, a junior in civil engineering's bio-resource program at Montana State University, is studying civil-based environmental engineering. By the time he graduates in 2005, he will be employable in water and environmental engineering. En route to graduation, the 20-year-old doesn't just study water issues. He lives them.

On a recent ski trip into the Crazy Mountains, Story left his scholastic concerns on campus and concentrated on skiing the deep frozen water, in the form of untracked backcounty powder.

"I try to ski or climb every weekend," Story said.

It was his knowledge of snow science and avalanche behavior that helped Story and companions choose safe slopes to play upon. During his student career, he worked with MSU's avalanche expert and engineering professor, Ed Adams.

"Adams has a big freezer in the engineering building where he can research depth-hoar growth (snow-crystals under the snow)," Story said. "Knowing about snow and avalanches can keep me alive."

Story admits that is where his interest in snow science ends, or rather melts, because it's running water that truly interests him. That enthusiasm combined with a 3.99 GPA, extracurricular activities and varied talents have set him up to be awarded the MSU Student of the Month, an award sponsored by the Bozeman Rotary Club.

The Bozeman High School graduate has numerous other awards and scholarships including the E.R. Dodge Scholarship, the MSU University Scholarship, the MSU Merit Scholarship and a MSU Music Department Scholarship.

Story explains that the bio-resources courses train civil engineers to fulfill the infrastructure needs of ever-expanding society while addressing natural resource issues. He is particularly concerned with safe and adequate water supplies and protection of surface and groundwater quantity and quality. Studies also examine waste and by-product management, and soil and water conservation and reclamation.

"I am in a training program with the U.S. Forest Service called the Student Career Experience Program," he said. "I work for a professional engineer in Missoula who monitors water systems in campgrounds and forest service facilities. I enjoy the challenge of efficiently maintaining an aging water distribution infrastructure."

In his spare time, Story occasionally plays the organ at his church, raises money for avalanche education and is president of the MSU Bio-Resource Engineering Club. Even with his many commitments, he finds time to play jazz piano, climb most of the highest peaks around Bozeman and mountain bike.

"Brian is an ideal student," says Joel Cahoon, civil engineering. "His diverse interests and activities are a rare treat in the academically rigorous College of Engineering. He has demonstrated leadership skills and is the clear frontrunner in our program based on classroom performance."

As Story hears the praise, he packs his truck for spring outings, mostly kayaking frothy rivers and extending ski adventures further into the mountains.

"I spend as much time as possible outside," he said, noting that it was in high school that he began to figure out how to balance work, school and relaxation. "Being outside, especially alone, allows me to clear my mind and live life more fully. High school kids need to know that it's wise to take hard classes -- the hardest classes that they can -- such as the advanced placement classes if offered. Then they need to get involved in a few extracurricular activities -- but not get too busy. High school is also about having fun."

Story received $100 from the Bozeman Rotary Club for Student of the Month Award. He is the son of Mark and Catherine Story of Bozeman.

Contact Brian Story, 522-7549