Katie Fox

Engineering: Julianna Hopper

Like many Wake Forest students, Juliana Hopper thought her career path was set when she came to campus as a freshman, but she found a completely different avenue for her passions instead.

Hopper is originally from Westport, CT. Although she anticipated that she would major in biology, a transformative experience in an Intro to Engineering course inspired her to pursue a different path.

As Hopper began to take more and more advanced courses in the department, she developed a passion for environmental engineering. She spoke of one professor who was especially integral to informing her interests: Dr. Courtney Di Vittorio.

Di Vittorio spoke very highly of Hopper as she recalled their close relationship throughout Hopper’s pursuit of her major.

“What I admire most about Juliana is that she pursues opportunities that align with her interests and values and is motivated by personal and professional growth.” Di Vittorio said. “While following her passions and sometimes taking risks, such as pursuing a writing minor as an engineering major and being one of the first engineering students to take a research-for-credit course — she is an exceptional student and has built a very impressive transcript and resumé.”

Hopper said her decision to take a writing minor was partly made to better advocate for her engineering projects.

“A lot of people wouldn’t think that writing and engineering fit together well, but having the minor has been so helpful to me.” Hopper said. “I frequently have to write proposals and analyses for projects in engineering; thats where good writing skills have been so important.”

Engineering professor Dr. Melissa Kenny also taught Hopper during her time at Wake Forest. She recalled Hopper’s enthusiasm for learning and optimistic disposition.

“Juliana is a bright, clever and curious student who was a pleasure to have in the classroom,” Kenny said. “She always greets everyone with a big smile and a cheerful hello which never fails to get her a smile in return. Everytime I chat with Juliana, she has smart and thoughtful questions and is always thinking of others.”

For her final capstone project, Hopper is focusing on a small county in Alabama suffering from wastewater leakage issues. Because the soil is mainly composed of clay in Alabama, sewage runs out of septic tanks and can flow into the homes and yards of residents, as well as contaminate their clean water.

“Learning about wastewater treatment with Dr. Di Vittorio is what got me passionate about environmental engineering originally,” Hopper said. “We were assigned one really interesting project where we were asked to design a way to treat and divert wastewater behind the Biology building on campus. I absolutely loved the experience, and I think it definitely contributed to me selecting my capstone project to be about wastewater too.”

Hopper gained another unexpected passion from her Engineering major as well: teamwork.

“I used to be very individualistic in my work style, I didn’t do a lot of group work,” Hopper said. “In engineering, we are frequently asked to work with smaller groups of people. Because I got so much exposure to it, I actually started really enjoying teamwork. It is one of the most valuable skills the Engineering Department at Wake Forest has given me, and it now informs my career path.”

After graduating, Hopper will be starting as a Project Engineer for the Water/Wastewater team at Timmons Group in Raleigh, NC. Outside of her major, Hopper is a member of the Wake Forest Concert Choir and toured London with the group as a sophomore. Hopper is also the president of the Tap Club, another passion she carried over from high school.

“I have done Concert Choir three out of the four years I’ve been here, and in addition to going to London, I’ve also had the opportunity to sing under two different directors,” Hopper said.

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