Maddie Dawson


Austin, TX

Academic Interests

Mechanical Engineering Major, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate

Fun Fact

I’ve run a marathon! (easily the most painful experience of my life -- unsure if I ever will again.)

Hello everyone! My name is Maddie Dawson, and I’m a freshman from Austin, Texas. I plan on majoring in Mechanical Engineering, with a certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Mechanical engineering satisfies my precision-oriented personality and exercises my technical skills. I’m also interested in designing products to better the lives of people with disabilities, and I plan to merge these two interests together at Duke! 

Before coming to Duke, I volunteered for many disability organizations. Every Sunday, through a program called “Top Soccer,” I taught children with physical and intellectual disabilities to play soccer. Two summers ago, I was a sports instructor at the “Camp in Motion” organization, and taught children with cerebral palsy how to play a variety of sports. While helping a young boy grip his tennis racket, a therapist put a subpar brace on his wrists to help straighten them— but it failed. I redesigned the brace -- straightening his wrists while improving his grip. This moment was an epiphany for me: I could bridge together my engineering skills with my passion for helping people with disabilities. I am eager to further my exploration of this combination of fields through research, volunteer work and various STEM opportunities at Duke!

I am currently using the engineering design process to explore solutions to real world problems. In my Engineering 101 class, my team is designing a system that measures premature infant temperatures and alerts nurses of any discrepancies for a NICU in Ethiopia! I am also on the design team for the “Runway of Dreams” club. This club designs adaptive clothing for people with disabilities -- a perfect segue between my engineering design interests and disability work. My team is currently designing a functional, yet fashionable patch for children with feeding tubes who also wear back braces. The patch functions as a protective cover for their G-tubes and provides an opening to access for feeding without having to take the back brace off.    

Outside of the classroom, I love to run. You can find me on the East Campus Loop, running up Campus Drive hill, or exploring the WA Duke Trail! Due to COVID, I was unable to join Duke Club Running this fall, but I plan on joining next year, as I would love to be part of a competitive running team again. I’m also an iced coffee enthusiast! My goal is to try every coffee place on campus by the end of the semester. I’m a big fan of live music and love all things concerts and music festivals. Some of my favorite artists include Quinn XCII, Dominic Fike and Christian French!

Maddie Dawson
Maddie Dawson