Summer Interns Reflect on Flood Center Experience

Two undergraduate students from Iowa State University spent the summer at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, participating in internships at the Iowa Flood Center. Although their work was very different, both say it was a valuable experience and one they’d recommend to other students.

Darnell Melvin, Software Engineering, Iowa State University


Darnell Melvin

Darnell Melvin, an Iowa City native, says he never thought he’d be working at Stanley Hydraulics Lab, although he had passed by the red brick building on the river’s edge many times. “I never thought about what actually goes on behind the scenes,” he says.

Melvin, a senior in software engineering at Iowa State University (ISU), spent his summer at the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) working with Assistant Research Engineer Ibrahim Demir on the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS). IFIS is a set of online flood information tools available to all Iowans.

Melvin contacted IFC Director Witold Krajewski, who encouraged him to apply for an internship. The internship included installing IFIS software upgrades, managing queries and data sub-trees, and looking for faster methods of querying databases. Melvin says he enjoyed his time at the IFC. “It’s been fun. I’ve been able to meet the people here, and they’ve been very nice,” he says.

As the summer comes to a close and the internship ends, Melvin will head back to Ames to continue his studies at ISU. Melvin says he would definitely recommend the IFC internship to other students. “It’s a good opportunity. I think all internships are good opportunities, and this is definitely a good one for me.”

Clayton Van Ekeren, Civil Engineering, Iowa State University

Clayton Van Eckren

Clayton Van Eckren

Clayton Van Ekeren is a civil engineering major at Iowa State University (ISU), but this summer he worked at the Iowa Flood Center (IFC), under the supervision of Engineer Dan Ceynar. A senior at ISU, Van Ekeren first heard about IIHR from the professor teaching his fluid mechanics class, who helped him contact IIHR Director Larry Weber and IFC Director Witold Krajewski.

Van Ekeren’s job at the IFC consisted of maintaining the Iowa Flood Center’s rain gauge network in Eastern Iowa. He regularly inspected the sites and leveled the gauges so they accurately gather data. Van Ekeren also had an opportunity to learn first-hand about the IFC’s stream-stage sensors, which are instruments designed to measure river stage and are built in the lab where Van Ekeren worked.

Van Ekeren will return to ISU for the fall. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa, where he hopes to work and study at IIHR. Van Ekeren says he found the internship at the IFC valuable and would suggest it to any students interested in water resources. “I would definitely recommend that they [students] consider IIHR, because of what it’s taught me and what I’ve gained from doing this internship.”

Flooding in Iowa Video Series Released

The Flooding in Iowa home page.

The Flooding in Iowa home page.

Iowa State University Extension, in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, has created a new series of educational web-based videos about all things flood-related: floodplains, flood risk, and basic floodplain management principles. The Flooding in Iowa Project divides the subject of flooding into five categories:

  • Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Understanding Flooding
  • Floodplain Mapping
  • Floodplain Regulation
  • Flood Insurance

The videos are available online at the ISU Extension website:

The website also includes a Frequently Asked Questions section, and links to other flood-related resources.