An Engineer’s Life: How Mariana Sorroza’s Journey Began with Her Father’s Robotic Arm

headshot for Mariana Sorroza
Mariana Sorroza

Mariana Sorroza, a senior in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, is a 2023 recipient of the Walker STEM Scholarship. Established in 2017 by Woody ’92 and Chris ’94 Walker, the scholarship was created to recognize the achievements and potential of students in STEM fields.

Mariana is the first in her family to go to a four-year university in the United States. Her parents – her mother is a former secretary, and her father is an industrial engineer – instilled within their three daughters the importance of education.

Her father took the girls to his job occasionally on the weekends. There, while her sisters were not so interested by what they saw, Mariana was fascinated by a robotic arm that her father was working with. It made such an impression on her, that she knew in kindergarten that she wanted to be an engineer when she grew up. Her teachers thought she meant a train engineer.

“But I knew what an engineer was because of my dad,” Mariana says. “I would hear him talk with his colleagues, and I thought that they were so smart, and that it was just the coolest thing in the world.”

Click to read more about Mariana Sorroza

Mariana, who is double majoring in mechanical engineering and international and global studies, has an impressive list of accomplishments that currently includes a remote internship with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Radiological Security. The work combines her passions for STEM, international studies, and for keeping others safe; she can see herself continuing in the field as she pursues her master’s and doctorate degrees.

Thanks to Florida’s Bright Futures program, Mariana’s tuition was mostly covered, but because an engineering degree requires more credits than a lot of other programs, she had to “unlock” certain classes by taking required prerequisites.

“For example,” Mariana says, “I had to take calculus 1, 2, and 3 before all the engineering courses were unlocked.” Mariana recommends that students who are interested in engineering complete the higher math courses before starting college if they are able to do dual enrollment.

“The engineering program at UCF is one of the best that we have in Florida,” Mariana says. She fell in love with UCF for other reasons, too, because there were so many students from other countries, and because of our diverse and robust international program.

Mariana is grateful for the Walker Stem Scholarship, and for the alumni who created it.

Woody Walker ’92 ’94MBA is the digital sales leader for Accenture/Avanade and is responsible for business development across North America. She funded the Walker STEM Scholarship Endowment Fund for the UCF Burnett Honors College and the Woody Walker Endowed Scholarship Fund for the UCF College of Business. She is a member of the UCF Alumni Board and received a Notable Knight Award at the UCF College of Business Hall of Fame in 2018. Sheis also a member of the Millican Society, a group of individuals who have included UCF in their estate plans.

“Scholarships really help students,” Mariana says. “Not only does it take some of our stress away and allows us to focus more on our work, but scholarships are also good for boosting one’s confidence. They serve as a symbol that there are people supporting us and believing in us and believing that we can do good in the world.”

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