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Parker Carpenter

What brought you to Auburn and to your major?
Although I did not grow up in Alabama, both of my parents graduated from Auburn University, so I grew up as an Auburn fan. I fondly remember making the drive from Georgia on Saturdays in the Fall for Auburn football games. The Auburn campus has always felt like a second home to me. When the time came to submit college applications, there were only two schools on my list: Auburn and Georgia Tech. I ultimately chose Auburn because of the familiarity and the football (no competition with Georgia Tech). I have always enjoyed math and science, and chemistry really grabbed my attention in high school. I didn’t know what a Chemical Engineer’s job responsibilities would be when I decided on my major, but I figured mixing math and chemistry ought to be entertaining. After touring Ross Hall and speaking with the advisor about coursework, I was eager to start classes in the Fall.

Tell me your story about your path since graduation regarding your career?
I can remember walking with Dr. Eden and Dr. Shaeiwitz around the time of graduation. Dr. Shaeiwitz asked about some cooling towers on the roof of a near-by building. I recall looking in the direction of his finger and having no idea to what he was referring. A few weeks later I was starting my career at Southern Company, and my first position was of a Subject Matter Expert (in-training) for, you guessed it, cooling towers and condensers. Learning behind an engineer who had been in the position for 40+ years, I quickly learned more about cooling towers than I knew was possible. I have since held other positions, including process lead for several large retrofit environmental projects and project manager/engineer at one of Alabama Power’s generating facilities. However, every time I see our cooling towers onsite or notice some package towers on the roof of a building, I am reminded of Auburn.

How did your Auburn engineering education prepare you for what you are doing now?
Working for a utility company, there has not been a lot of opportunity to utilize what I learned at Auburn. There has been plenty of opportunity to leverage my experience in Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer, but not much chemistry-specific. I would say, however, that my time at Auburn prepared me very well to be an engineer. I find walking into new situations with which I have little experience does not intimidate me. I tend to flourish when I am immersed in a new challenge, and I attribute the ability to break down complex problems into reasonable pieces to my education at Auburn. When compared to organic chemistry, phase and reaction equilibria, and other courses, challenges encountered at work are typically pretty manageable.

What advice would you give students at Auburn?
Although you may not encounter all of the coursework in your professional career, think of your time at Auburn as utilizing the Chemical Engineering curriculum to train you to be a relentless problem solver. Learning how to work was a primary takeaway for me while at Auburn. However, take time to enjoy your time in college. Once you leave college, your life changes, and you should take advantage of the eb and flow of college while you can.

What is your favorite Auburn memory or War Eagle moment?
Having been a student at Auburn for the 2010 National Championship season and the 2013 season, I have many incredible memories from which to draw. Although the Kick-Six was an all-time incredible play, the Prayer in Jordan-Hare would have to be my favorite moment at Auburn. When Nick Marshall let go of the ball, the whole stadium went quiet and stayed quiet until Ricardo Louis locked his hands around it. At that moment, the stadium erupted in a way I have never known was possible. Being a Georgia kid, it’s always special to send UGA away with a loss.