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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘I came here to do big things’: Engineering alum discusses starting her own company

Photo courtesy of Amber Williams

By running her design business, Amber Williams, a Wichita State engineering alum, aims to support other women of color and disadvantaged community members.

“I’ve known since the age of 5, I came here to do big things,” Williams said.

Williams is a third-generation entrepreneur, with both of her parents and grandparents starting their own businesses in the Wichita area. She is also a citizen of The Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma; her Native identity is what drives her company.

According to its website, Williams’ business, Circa81 Design, founded in 2020, specializes in full-service design, project management, construction administration and advising services. The company is a certified Indian Small Business Economic Enterprise that helps Native American tribes and public and private sectors reach their goals. 

Williams is the current owner, CEO, and an engineer for the company. Her company works to design optimized workspaces and homes that attempt to increase productivity and well-being. This is achieved through the combined efforts of people working in different disciplines like engineering, industrial ergonomics, automation and others. 

Williams admitted she’s had some struggles in starting her business and keeping it afloat, but she says she’s had a lot of supporters — many from her family. She said her father was her first supporter, and others have come from the Wichita State community. 

“I’m grateful for the support I’ve had, and I want to be a representative for other women of color or other women who are in STEM,” Williams said. “I want them to understand that there are many men out there who want to support us, but we have to go in with our hearts open and trust our gut when it comes to developing relationships with these people.” 

Williams noted that she wants her story to be a positive experience for other women of color in STEM to look at, especially since it is a heavily male-dominated field. She wants her story to help overshadow some of the negative experiences others have had. 

“As a woman, you should know what you want. When you know what you want, you can navigate in this world a little bit more clearly,” Williams said. “It’s never too late to go after your dreams. I want women to know they have options.” 

Williams also plans to give back to the Wichita State community, especially because of the university’s support in her endeavors. She plans to attend the “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” on campus on Thursday, Feb. 22. 

“I want to really create a resource for women of color — and not just women of color, people of disadvantage — that want to start businesses, to be able to open a door for them,” Williams said. 

Her next big goal is to bring on 15 employees from Wichita State in the next year.

“I’m reaching back to the students in Wichita State to hire, to get interns,” Williams said. “Just to continue expanding and creating more impact in the Wichita area.” 

Any students, specifically in the College of Engineering, who are interested in internship or career opportunities within the construction industry, can reach out to [email protected] or send a message through the careers tab on the Circa81 website

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About the Contributor
Maleah Evans, Reporter
Maleah Evans is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. They previously worked as a copy editor. Evans is a sophomore, majoring in history with a minor in anthropology. They plan to pursue a career as a museum curator.

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