Senior Spotlight: Dane Walker

Dane Walker Senior Spotlight graphic.

Through Project Lead the Way – a nonprofit organization that develops STEM curriculum for elementary, middle and high schools across the country – Dane Walker was introduced to a variety of scientific fields. The subject that clicked the most for Walker was engineering. When he made the decision to continue his education at the University of Missouri, he knew the College of Engineering was going to be the perfect fit.

“I was able to learn more about several fields within engineering throughout high school,” said Walker, who will graduate with a civil engineering degree from MU. “Civil engineering was a program that I was very engaged with; it really challenged me. It was definitely something I could see myself pursuing, and I’m so glad I chose that program at Mizzou.”

Walker is part of the accelerated master’s program in civil engineering, one that allows students to complete their master’s degree just a year after finishing their bachelor’s degree. So, while Walker will officially walk during commencement this month, he’ll return to campus in the fall to complete a master’s degree.

“I’ve really enjoyed this program thus far,” said, Walker, who is also a construction management minor. “Being able to complete courses in both programs at once is very beneficial for a number of reasons, both financially and academically.

Dane Walker outside writing on a notebook.

“The College of Engineering has been great overall. There’s a great mix of coursework and a focus on providing real-world opportunities for each student. The faculty recognize the fundamentals that we’ll be working with in the future and strive to prepare us as much as possible for our careers.”

Hands-on learning opportunities have been vital throughout Walker’s time as a Tiger. Many of those experiences have come through the classroom but he also held a few internships, especially recently. Walker worked with a company that does structural design for storm inlets and gained surveying experience with separate group. After commencement, Walker will complete a summer internship with an engineering company, HNTB, where he will focus on bridge design.

“Ever since high school, I’ve had an interest in structural design,” Walker said. “I’ve always been able to see how everything fits together with regards to the numbers within the field. It just clicks – and it’s something that I get into a flow with as I dive deeper into it.”

While Walker, who is from the Kansas City, Missouri, area, has stayed plenty busy with his engineering courses, he has stayed incredibly active in the Honors College, too.

“As passionate as I am about engineering, I’m equally passionate about the Honors College,” Walker said. “My Honors courses have been some of the most enriching classes that I’ve taken at MU. The Humanities Sequence, for example, has been incredible. These experiences have really changed me as a person and challenged me to think in different ways.”

Along with the coursework, Walker also served on the Honors Curriculum Committee as a student representative.

“I didn’t realize how big the scope was in terms of the course offerings through the Honors College,” Walker said. “It was really interesting to be part of this committee and learn about the variety and how wide reaching the classes truly are. There is definitely something for everybody.”

Walker’s final semester at Mizzou has allowed him to gain some research experience, something he will continue to pursue throughout his master’s degree. He is in the early stages of a project with Oliver Giraldo-Londoño, an assistant professor and the James W. and Joan M. O’Neill Faculty Scholar in Engineering. Walker is conducting a literature review related to self-healing materials, which can recover their mechanical properties after a fracture.

“I’m still in the process of figuring out what project I will be working on throughout my master’s degree, but it has been nice to get some research experience before I officially graduate,” Walker said. “I’m ready to get rolling on the next phase of my academic journey.”