Published: June 14, 2015
John "Max" Dunn

This spring, senior John "Max" Dunn helped the CU Triathlon team bring home its 16th collegiate national championship and was voted in as the club's vice president. But being a student athlete only scratches the surface of Dunn's active college life.

Academically, he's a member of the Engineering Honors Program (EHP) and served as a teaching assistant for ECEE's freshman "clocks" class. In his spare time, he started an improv comedy troupe called KidzBlop with his roommate. He volunteered with a group that designed and built the tables in the Idea Forge. He swing dances once a week. He plays water polo with a group from EHP.

So how does he do it all? For a start, he chose to go with a five-year plan for his bachelor's.

"I made a conscious decision to enrich my college experience," Dunn said. "It just wasn't conducive to my learning path to do it in four. Dabbling is my forte."

A five-year plan allowed him to take his time in identifying the engineering specialty that was right for him. He started as open-option, but always had his eye on electrical engineering. In the last year, after a class with professor Milos Popovic, he's developed an interest in electronic physics and optics.

"My interests are in working on things," he said. "While I enjoy coding, it's more interesting to see physical things that work, and making silicon wafers for optics looks like magic."

And a five-year plan does not mean he gets to take things easy. Dunn describes himself as "hyper organized" and applies the same discipline to his academics that he applies to his athletics.

"Triathlon Club usually has one or two workouts available each day, and you choose the workouts you need during the week," he explained. "But during 'hell weeks,' you go to all of them."

When finals or other busy times roll around, he designates his own personal hell weeks.

"I sit down with paper and a Sharpie and plan out the week down to the 10 minutes - when I'll study, when I'll eat, everything," he said. "It takes a lot of planning and understanding how long assignments take."

He also relies on his fellow EHP students for academic support, something he recommends for all engineering students.

"Find study groups that you can rely on that won't be counterproductive," he said. "Have friends that you know you can help, and they can help you."