'Pipe Dream' Becomes Reality for Alumna Returning as Faculty Member
Tech alumna Maegan Tucker, ME 2017, is about to write a new chapter in what she calls her “love letter” to Georgia Tech.
Tucker’s passion for problem-solving has propelled her back to Tech. In 2024, 12 years after she stepped onto campus as a first-year Yellow Jacket fresh out of high school, Tucker will be returning as a faculty member with a Ph.D.
Tucker says the most important lesson she learned at Georgia Tech is something she hopes to impart to her own students: “Focus on not just solving hard problems but on hard problems that matter. Make a difference in the real world. You should be passionate about what you’re doing, and you should only do something if you feel strongly about it.”
Tucker has always been fascinated by prosthetics and helping people with lower limb mobility. Her research centers around achieving stable and user-preferred locomotion on robotic assistive devices.
“I love the research world and the fact that you are challenged to solve open-ended problems.
I’ve always loved the intersection of human subject testing, but also pursuing solutions that aren’t necessarily clinically viable at the moment,” she said.
During her time as an eager undergraduate at Georgia Tech, Tucker says she met some of “the most amazing peers and mentors I could ever imagine.” She points to their guidance for helping her “get out” in 2017. When Tucker walked across the stage at her Commencement ceremony and shook hands with then-Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, she had no idea that he would play another role in her trajectory.
“Bud Peterson was basically a celebrity to me. So, you can imagine my surprise when he sat down to listen to my seminar during my faculty interview in 2022! Having him in the audience definitely made me slightly more nervous, but it was also an immense honor and felt like a milestone in my academic journey,” she said.
That journey will come full circle in January 2024 when Tucker returns to her Georgia Tech roots. But first, she’ll graduate in May from Caltech with her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. In June she’s getting married, and then she’ll move across the country — back to Atlanta where it all began. Tucker will be an assistant professor in both the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.
“I always had in the back of my head that coming back as faculty someday was always kind of a pipe dream,” Tucker reminisced. In just a matter of months, her dream will be her reality.
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