When electrical engineering major Jack Casturo's not hard at work in the lab, he's likely to be found in one of Bucknell's high-tech makerspaces. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications
Being a Bucknell engineer really does give you an advantage. I just finished my sophomore year and have already had so many cool experiences.
Jack Casturo '24 was 11 years old the first time he visited Kenya, on a mission trip that he kickstarted with his father through their church. There, in the city of Kisumu, Casturo learned how to combine a solar panel, inverter and battery to build a powerful appliance.
"We built a few of these solar sets with students there and showed them how to power their homes," says Casturo, an electrical engineering major from Pittsburgh. "My passion for engineering just took off from there."
He followed that fascination to Bucknell, where he's building the toolbelt to craft devices much more intricate than your average solar set. An early ENG210 assignment challenged him and a small team of classmates to construct a line-following robot. The project called for hours of detailed wiring, coding and calibration to enable the four-wheeled machine to detect and trace a taped line on the floor via sensors.
Casturo recently took those skills a step further when he designed, built and programmed a functional slot machine for his Digital Systems Design course.
"That's probably the coolest thing I've done so far because there was so much hands-on work that went into making all the different pieces work — from the light display to the lever to the mechanics that release the coins," he says. "And I got to work alongside some really talented students, which is always awesome."
But Casturo's creativity isn't limited to classroom assignments. When he's not hard at work in engineering labs, he's likely to be found in the Maker-E — one of Bucknell's high-tech makerspaces — tinkering away on fun, personal projects. His latest creation is a flashing LED "Thank You" display for his grandmother's rearview mirror.
For his Digital Systems Design course, Jack Casturo '24 designed, built and programmed a functional slot machine. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications
"The practical lessons I'm learning through the engineering curriculum make it possible to execute ideas on my own," Casturo says. "Being a Bucknell engineer really does give you an advantage. I just finished my sophomore year and have already had so many cool experiences."
One of those experiences came in fall 2021, when Casturo traveled to Dubai to attend the annual U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Hosted in various nations worldwide, the Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition that tasks teams with designing and building high-performance, low-carbon buildings powered by renewable energy.
While there, Casturo got an immersive look at what the future of environmentally conscious engineering could be, as he toured innovative constructions produced by college students like himself — all with an eye toward sharing his observations with professors at Bucknell.
"When I came back to campus, I was able to share an on-the-ground perspective of the competition to help the College of Engineering evaluate whether Solar Decathlon is something it wants to participate in in the future," Casturo explains. "To succeed would require every kind of Bucknell engineer, as well as management majors and students from other disciplines, to work together."
It's a prospect that excites Casturo, who chose Bucknell for its emphasis on real-world, experiential learning — both in and out of the classroom.
"When I talk to friends at other engineering schools, they say they don't get to do half of the design that I've done," he says. "I really can't say enough good things about the Bucknell program."
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