One engineer’s dream: creating something from nothing

Contact: Cindy Wagner

Shown working on a robot, Julianna Buck leads the WMU Bronco Robotics team, which qualified to compete in the world championships in May.

Julianna Buck

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—What’s your major? It’s a natural first question for someone to ask a college student. But for Julianna Buck, senior engineering design technology major and president of the WMU Robotics Club, that question doesn’t always have a simple answer.

“One thing some people get caught up on is thinking that they need to have everything figured out,” says Buck. “This isn’t true; it is okay to try out different things and change your mind about what you want your future to look like. Just make sure that whatever you decide to do you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.”

Buck is pursuing her dreams following her own advice. The 2022 WMU Presidential Scholar for the Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems is ready to graduate and looking forward to a career in an interesting industry and figuring out her future.

“I know that sounds very vague, but that is just the best description that I can think of,” says Buck. “One idea that I have thought about is possibly working for a company like Disney where I could design amusement park attractions or something like that.”

Buck plans to enroll in the Disney College Program this fall, but first will participate in one more competition for her beloved Bronco Robotics team.

As president of Bronco Robotics, Buck leads the operations of the organization where students design and build robots, then compete against other universities.

“So far, every year we have competed, we have placed well at our tournaments and qualified for the World Championships,” she says, which includes teams from throughout the world. This year is no different, with Buck leading the team to the world competition in May.

Robotics is what led Buck to pursuing studies and a career in engineering. When she first joined her high school robotics team, Buck was introduced to engineering and found that she was most interested in the design aspect.

“I fell in love with the ability to create something from nothing,” says Buck. “For me, the most exciting part of my field is being able to see the creation of products or items from an idea to a working model. I find the whole process fascinating; it is, in my opinion, a very personal process. When someone creates something, it gives you an insight into who they are.”

Coming to Western, Buck soon began learning and experiencing life as an engineer.

“One of the best academic experiences I have had was in my product design class where we made a design for a lamp and then created the final product,” says Buck. “This project helped me understand the full design and creation process—from start to finish. It helped me solidify that this was the right path for me.”

She gained more experience in her field as an electrical engineering technician intern for Black & Veatch. 

And for this engineer, creating something from nothing is her dream. After graduation—and the robotics world championships—Buck will participate in the Disney College Program, then figure out her next step to realizing what her future will be.

Follow Buck’s journey on LinkedIn.

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