Husker Power: Jake Jundt graduates to engineering career following memorable UNL run

Jake Jundt celebrating his degree at the University of Nebraska commencement.
Jake Jundt on commencement day at UNL.
If someone’s asked to characterize the “perfect Husker,” they could very well describe Jake Jundt. The Lincoln native and College of Engineering alum did not waste a minute of his time as a student at UNL – both as an undergrad and graduate student. Jundt recently graduated in May 2022 with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics, but how he got there is a journey filled with opportunities and making the most of them.

“There’s nothing I’d change,” Jundt said about his UNL experience. “There were several opportunities put in front of me. I got to travel the country, from Tempe (Arizona) to New York City and California to Gainesville, Florida with a storied Nebraska program and its traditions. I did it and there’s nothing I’d change about it.”

Jundt is as active as one gets, going nonstop from sunup to sundown. Engineering classes consumed a lot of daylight whether it was the classroom or a laboratory. As an undergraduate student, afternoons and evenings were spent managing the women’s gymnastics team as the team’s student manager for four years. His love and dedication to gymnastics later paid dividends when the UNL Husker Cheer Squad brought back male cheerleaders in 2019. Since then, he’s actively voiced his support of Nebraska football from the sidelines and at alumni events. And when he finds a little downtime, Jundt picks himself up by lifting weights as a powerlifter competed nationally, which involves training rigorously nearly three hours a day, four times a week.

Husker Destiny

He was always destined to be a Husker. Growing up in Lincoln, Jundt seized the opportunity to go to college in his hometown as his parents, Robert and Gloria Jundt, encouraged their son to pursue his passion, which was becoming a UNL student. It was also a learning experience for Jake, who was finding out what he really wanted to do or who he’d like to be.

He began as an accounting major but after a couple of semesters, he realized business wasn’t for him. Jundt weighed his options and decided he wanted to be a mechanical engineer.

Jake Jundt poses with College of Engineering Dean Lance Pérez before a Husker football game.
Jake Jundt and Dean Lance Pérez before a Husker football game.
“I just like taking things apart and putting them back together,” added Jundt, who graduated from Lincoln Pius X in 2014. “It was hard for me, to be honest. I never took AP classes in high school, but I did like physics and science.”

He also liked gymnastics and staying involved with a sport he grew up with. Having competed as a gymnast all through high school, Jundt knew he wasn’t good enough to compete collegiately; that didn’t stop him from wanting to be part of the storied Husker gymnastics program.

“I still practiced and worked out at (the) Devaney (Center) because I loved it so much,” he explained. “But I wasn’t really good enough to do it collegiately.”

After talking with Head Coach Chuck Chmelka, the 12-year Husker head coach suggested Jundt work with women’s gymnastics as the program needed a student manager. Jundt jumped at the chance and, over the next four years, didn’t miss a practice or a meet despite taking courses like kinematics and fluid mechanics.

The team’s meet schedule also ate into his class schedule, particularly during spring semesters when he traveled with the team to places like Augusta, Georgia; East Lansing, Michigan; Gainesville, Florida and Champaign, Illinois all during the final month of the season (March 2018) when his academic calendar was filled with exams, assignments or projects.

“It was a significant time commitment,” said Jundt, whose siblings, Derek and Emily, also graduated from Nebraska. “I was a half hour early before every practice and a half hour after every practice.”

Husker Power

Jake Jundt competes at the 2018 Deadlift Collegiate Nationals
Jake Jundt competes at the 2018 Deadlift Collegiate Nationals.
As if working with the women’s gymnastics program wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Jundt also was an active power lifter as a student, joining the Nebraska Barbell Club to not only keep in shape but better himself through personal growth by meeting new people in a challenging strength sport. He even competed at the 2019 Collegiate Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.

“Training as a power lifter takes a lot of work and time,” described Jundt. “But it got me into better shape, kept me active and with my cheer squad schedule, helped with stunts and lifts.”

Husker Cheer

A funny thing happened on the way to graduation for Jundt, who concluded his four-year career with the women’s gymnastics program in the spring of 2019. A door opened up for the former gymnast in the fall of 2019 when he and five other male cheerleaders were added to the Husker Cheer Squad for the football season. It was the first time men were allowed to join the cheer team in more than a decade.

“I loved it so much, I didn’t want to give up cheer,” he said. “That’s when I thought about doing grad school and continuing on as a member of the squad.”

As a cheer member, Jundt and his teammates endured long days that sometimes began with 6 a.m. morning lifting and concluded with 9:30 p.m. practices a couple of times a week. But the dedication was worth it as Jundt and his cheer squad teammates often served as the face of Husker Athletics, appearing at multiple events throughout the season and even during the off season. During these engagements, Jundt has mingled with a fair share of prominent alumni and Husker fans, including Chancellor Ronnie Green and his wife, Jane, who consider Jundt a friend and enthusiastic ambassador for the university.

“We attend many athletic events and often travel with the team to away events, as does Jake as a spirit squad member,” said Chancellor Green, who noted that Jake’s presence, enthusiasm, energy, and optimism made every athletic event better. Jane Green added, “Jake has the most welcoming and positive countenance, seemingly greeting the world with a smile.”

Jundt is now taking his energy and enthusiasm to Hexagon Lincoln as a research and development engineer. He’s no stranger to the composite cylinder technology company, having interned at their Lincoln location since 2019. But no matter where Jundt’s career path takes him, he’ll always be a proud Husker ambassador having impacted many people along the way.

“Over the years we had brief conversations to learn more about Jake and his school and career ambitions,” said Jane Green. “It became tradition to exchange waves and smiles from the stands, and then to hug whenever we met.”