What brought you to Auburn and to major?
Having grown up in Alexander City, Auburn was originally last on my list of schools because I wanted to get out and see the world. However, when I came to officially tour the campus, I just had a feeling of comfort and excitement about Auburn that I didn’t have anywhere else. I knew that Auburn was where I was supposed to be, and the balance of academics and student life was everything I was looking for in a college. I always knew I’d be an engineer, and I actually started in Chemical Engineering. However, organic chemistry humbled me and showed me that I was more mechanically inclined, so I switched to mechanical engineering.
Tell me your story about your path since graduation regarding your career?
I finished undergrad in 2008, and I felt like I had more to learn, so I stayed on and got my masters in mechanical engineering at Auburn. While doing graduate work, I started working on various research projects and was hooked. Research allows you to tap into the “creative” side of engineering where you are often designing new concepts and working on cutting edge topics. I began working on DoD research projects with Integrated Solutions for Systems (IS4S) while still a graduate student, and I transitioned to a full-time position with them when I graduated. I’ve been with them ever since, and we’ve grown our research group from a few engineers to two local offices and over 60 researchers working on various programs for DoD and other customers. Being able to exercise that “creative” engineering muscle and solving difficult problems is something that I’m extremely passionate about and I absolutely love what I do because of it.
How did your Auburn engineering education prepare you for what you are doing now?
Auburn Engineering really taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. I learned early on that engineering was a hard and challenging curriculum, and everyone around you is extremely smart. The students who succeeded were not necessarily the smartest, but rather it was the ones who worked the hardest at studying and really learning the material. It took sacrifice, commitment, and persistence to survive at times. However, running through that gauntlet gave me a tremendous sense of confidence and taught me that it’s okay to not understand things or to struggle at times. What matters is that you work hard at being a good engineer, and that is something I have continued to develop throughout my career. It is definitely one of the best things Auburn Engineering provided me.
What advice would you give students at Auburn?
Take advantage of everything Auburn provides you as a student. I never fully appreciated how much Auburn Engineering does outside of the classroom for their students. Attend professional networking events, visit the career center, practice interviewing, engage with your professors, join an engineering student organization…there are a ton of options. Being an alumni, I pay more attention now to all the things Auburn does to help its students, and I would advise current students to make sure you are taking full advantage of everything being offered to you because it’s probably much more than you realize.
What is your favorite Auburn memory or War Eagle moment?
Easily my favorite Auburn memory was the 2009 West Virginia football game. Everyone in the stadium knew it was going to rain, but you have to have been there to fully appreciate just how much rain fell in such a short amount of time. Like everyone else, we just simply couldn’t get to shelter in time and were stuck in the stands. However, in a very uniquely Auburn way, the student section starts belting out songs at the top of their lungs. Standing there in the stands, more soaked than I’ve ever been, and seeing all the students not going ANYWHERE in the rain was one of the coolest atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of. (Of course we won too!)