• A stator in the third powerhouse at Grand Coulee.
  • The penstocks above the water at Hoover Dam
  • The top of Shasta Dam in California
  • An automated gate structure on a canal in Washington.
  • An aerial photo of the sunsetting at Ruedi Reservoir in Colorado.


A photo of Whitney KrossPosition: STEP, Reclamation Guide
School: Montana State University
Major: Civil Engineering
Hometown: Columbia Falls, Montana

While in my first year at Montana State University, Dennis Philmon, Facility Manager at Hungry Horse Dam and Power Plant, offered me the opportunity to work in the dam and at the visitor center during my summer and winter breaks. This was just what I needed. I was coming home from my first year of college, and I wanted a new experience, something that actually pertained to my studies. I have always loved the water. The farther I got into engineering; I realized I really enjoyed the water resources aspect. Plus, I love to talk, and this opportunity gave me the chance to do it all!


During the summer months, I mainly worked in the visitor center interacting with tourists, giving tours, and exploring the inner workings of the dam. I was extremely lucky to participate in a Comprehensive Facility Review of the dam during this past summer. Having a glimpse into every detail of the dam from the natural concrete sparring to the internal workings of the penstocks and bypass tunnels was an amazing opportunity I will never forget. The things I have experienced would have never happened without being hired at the Hungry Horse Dam. Who could ask for a better summer job then one in which they pay me to do something I love and work outdoors next to Glacier National Park, one of the most beautiful places in the country.


This position has given me multiple opportunities I would never have received elsewhere. One of my strongest passions is a love for history. Through working at the dam, I have met many of the men who helped to build it over sixty years ago and heard many stories that I never would have believed had I not been told from the people who experienced them. One winter, I was given the task to hunt down and collect any and all historical artifacts that could be used in a visitor center display. It was amazing to find pictures, articles of clothing, surveying tools, notebooks, and countless other items just lying in old rooms that no one has seen or touched for years.

I have also been given the opportunity to follow along with many of the workers and explore and learn about several features of the dam I had no idea existed. Seeing the inner workings of a penstock, looking into the open face of a 12 ft diameter jet valve, or looking down the opening of one of the largest Glory Holes (emergency spillway) in the nation are a few of the experiences I will never forget. To be given such a wonderful opportunity throughout the last four years while furthering my education is something for which I will be eternally grateful.


I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. I plan to begin applying to graduate schools as well as jobs in the coming weeks and see where my life takes me. I love exploring the relationship between water and humans and the engineering that goes behind it. I hope to stay on with the Bureau of Reclamation and continue to learn and improve the ways in which people and water interact.

Updated: October 19, 2012