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Alumni News

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Successful engineer and entrepreneur helps future generations

As a high school student, John Watson, ’60 mechanical engineering, received a call from Jennings B. Whitworth to play football at the University of Alabama on scholarship. The problem was, Watson had made up his mind to go to Auburn. “In ninth grade, I decided I was going to go to Auburn University, which was then Alabama Polytechnic Institute, study engineering and play football,” Watson said. “I had no money, and didn’t consult anyone on my decision. I just made up my mind and knew that was what I was going to do.”

10/12/20 8:02 AM
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New Young Alumni Council member supports students through scholarship

When he was just a kid, Jeremy Woods, ‘16 software engineering, was taking computers apart and putting them back together again. He worked with as many electronics and machines as he could get his hands on. And as he grew older, his passion for computers grew. In seventh grade, he knew he wanted to study computer engineering at Auburn. Today, Woods is a successful software engineer at Google, and is a newly appointed member of the Auburn Engineering Young Alumni Council. He also recently established the Jeremy Woods Endowed Scholarship in engineering.

10/9/20 7:58 AM
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Auburn Engineering’s Young Alumni Council welcomes new members

The Auburn Engineering Young Alumni Council (YAC) welcomed eight new members in the fall of 2020, the largest class of new members to date. Each of the new members was notified of the appointment in September, and they will participate in the upcoming YAC Spring 2021 activities.

10/5/20 8:02 AM
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MartinFederal Consulting, LLC. announces new endowed scholarship

MartinFederal is strongly tied to both the city of Auburn and Auburn University. Corey Martin, founder & CEO, received his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and master’s degree in Computer Science from Auburn University. A key aspect of MartinFederal’s vision is to “work to improve our communities” and this scholarship will allow the company to provide opportunities for future engineers as they complete their undergraduate studies at Auburn University.

9/29/20 11:00 AM
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Auburn Alumni Engineering Council honors nine with college’s highest awards

Eight outstanding alumni and one longtime employee of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering were honored during a virtual ceremony Friday, Sept. 25, by the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council for their distinguished professional careers. These alumni include five who were recognized as Distinguished Auburn Engineers, three as Outstanding Young Auburn Engineers and the college’s former director of communications and marketing for his Superior Service.

9/28/20 8:02 AM
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PepsiCo Chief Information Security Officer Talks Auburn Engineering

On her desk, sitting near her old Auburn Engineering statistics book, Sara Andrews keeps a paperweight. Etched on the glass it says, “every step of the journey is the journey.” These words guide her every day as she tackles new challenges with a grateful heart. Andrews, a 1986 Industrial Engineering graduate, is the Chief Information Security Officer for PepsiCo. She was also recently appointed to the Board of Directors for FireEye, a leading enterprise security and threat intelligence company.

9/14/20 11:03 AM
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Auburn Engineering alumnus elected senior vice president of Marketing and Economic Development

Tony Smoke, '84 electrical engineering, was recently promoted to the position of senior vice president for Marketing and Economic Development at Alabama Power. As senior vice president, he will oversee the company’s marketing, economic development and business development functions.

9/2/20 10:02 AM
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New York native sends love to Alabama

Native New Yorker Mary Cordato has a heart for small town Alabama. Born and raised in Brooklyn, her affinity for one East Alabama town was inspired by her father, Joseph Cordato. A native of New York himself, Joseph traveled to Alabama on the train in 1933 to pursue his degree in engineering.

8/25/20 2:02 PM
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Virtual New Student Welcome hosts students, parents and members

More than 100 incoming female engineering students, 60 parents, 60 alumni members of 100+ Women Strong, faculty and staff joined the New Student Welcome hosted by 100+ Women Strong on August 4. The event, which was hosted via Zoom rather than in person, allowed students to hear from Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering and interim vice president for development, as well as keynote speaker Susan Story, ’81 industrial engineering. Incoming freshman and current students were also welcomed with a surprise virtual visit from Aubie before joining group breakouts to talk with other students about their upcoming classes.

8/5/20 11:02 AM
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Siblings establish endowed scholarship in honor of aunt who paved the way

The Auburn Family is a real phenomenon — any fan will tell you. It is a legacy of generosity, loyalty, hospitality and kindness that extends to anyone who believes in the Auburn Creed and emphatically embraces the “War Eagle!” battle cry. Patrick Duke is one such family member. A 1999 civil engineering graduate whose family grew up in Hueytown, Duke remains loyal to his alma mater and believes Auburn Engineering set him up for success. And in July, Duke and his sister — Auburn Shukla, who is named after the university and graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation and special education — established the Janice Duke James Soaring Eagle Diversity Endowed Scholarship in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

8/5/20 9:02 AM
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Auburn Engineering alumnus gives community college commencement address

Chattahoochee Valley Community College (CVCC) is hosting a virtual commencement on Friday, August 7. In addition to special awards and tributes, the virtual commencement ceremony includes a keynote address from Kenneth Kelly, the chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank of Detroit, Michigan. It is now the 8th largest African-American controlled commercial bank in the country.

8/3/20 7:59 AM
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Alumnus, engineering donor awarded distinguished honor by the American Society of Civil Engineers

Auburn Engineering donor George “Edd” Gibson is a proud alumnus. A professor at Arizona State University, Gibson speaks to the ways in which his undergraduate and doctorate degrees in civil engineering prepared him for illustrious career—a career that was recently recognized with one of civil engineering’s most prestigious honors. In June, Gibson was designated a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. And it is an honor he has not taken lightly.

7/29/20 10:02 AM
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Aerospace engineering students, alumnus honored by aeronautics institute

Two students from the Auburn University Department of Aerospace Engineering and an alumnus of the department have been recognized by the Huntsville Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Timothy Marquardt received the Graduate Student of the Year award; Anna Grace Miller received the Undergraduate Student of the Year award; and aerospace engineering alumnus Mark Miller received the organization’s Toftoy Award.

7/29/20 9:50 AM
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Young Alumni Council member inspires through service

Opelika native Joseph Moore, ’08 aerospace engineering, has always been fascinated by space. He recalls having a conversation in sixth grade with a friend about his future career – and how he wanted to be an astronaut.

7/22/20 1:02 PM
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Melvin Brewing CEO, Auburn alumnus, talks Auburn Engineering

An expert in food production, Frank Magazine knows his way around a bushel of hops and a brewery. Which is a good thing, considering his current role as CEO of Melvin Brewing Company in Alpine, Wyoming. “It’s my runway to retirement job – my fun job. A small and growing company with great personnel, a great product and great branding,” said Magazine, a 1981 chemical engineering graduate.

7/20/20 11:02 AM
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Governor names two Auburn Engineers to Alabama innovation commission

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced the creation of the first statewide innovation commission and advisory council to promote entrepreneurial growth and innovation. Known as Innovate Alabama, the commission will serve as a platform for innovators to engage policymakers, exchange ideas and identify policies that promote innovation in the state.

7/16/20 11:02 AM
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Nashville friends and Auburn alumni pave the way for future engineers

Put engineers in a room together and they will do what they do best: problem solve. Nashville natives Steve Cates, ’85 civil engineering, and Randy Chase, ’85 mechanical engineering, are members of the Auburn Engineering Alumni Council. They say that their experiences as active alumni has made a big difference, both for them and the students and faculty they have met.

7/13/20 12:01 PM
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Love for Auburn rings true for two dedicated alumni

The loveliest village on the Plains was made even more welcoming when Ken and Joyce Ringer decided to move into town. The couple – both Auburn graduates – lived, worked and raised their kids in Atlanta. But for their golden years, they wanted to be near their alma mater.

7/8/20 2:02 PM
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Auburn Engineering alumni promoted in Georgia Power executive leadership moves

Pedro Cherry, '93 industrial engineering and '95 MBA, and Nicole Faulk, '96 mechanical engineering and '99 M.S. mechanical engineering, were among four Auburn engineers promoted during Southern Company's recent executive leadership moves.

6/24/20 9:58 AM
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From coin collecting to cruising, API graduates make a difference at Auburn

Jim and Bettye Ballenger are the retired couple everyone wants to be. They’ve moved across the country several times for work, they’ve traveled the world for pleasure, and now they are settled and living in Florida – the sunshine state. The Ballengers got their start at Auburn, which was then known by a different name.

6/11/20 10:02 AM
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Engineering alumna elected as ExxonMobil Corporate Vice President and appointed President of Upstream Business Development Company

Exxon Mobil Corporation’s board of directors has appointed Linda DuCharme as president of ExxonMobil Upstream Business Development Company and elected her vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation. She will retain her current position as president of ExxonMobil Upstream Integrated Solutions Company.

6/3/20 4:03 PM
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Auburn alumna to lead Alabama Power Public Relations

Auburn Engineering graduate, Ashley Robinett, has been named Alabama Power’s vice president of Public Relations, effective immediately, per Southern Company. Robinett will oversee the company’s corporate communications and brand management, providing strategic communications counsel that ensures messages reach employees, customers and key stakeholders.

6/3/20 9:02 AM
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President of Delta Flight Products, Auburn Engineering graduate, spearheads life-changing responses to COVID-19

As president of Delta Flight Products, Rick Salanitri, '95 industrial engineering, has pivoted to provide a response to the COVID-19 outbreak. His team transitioned from in-flight entertainment to innovative approaches to combat the global pandemic.

5/25/20 9:04 AM
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Auburn alumnus appointed Walt Disney World Resort President

Jeff Vahle, '85 mechanical engineering, recently succeeded Josh D’Amaro as president of the Walt Disney World Resort. In his new role, Vahle leads a team of Cast Members —America’s largest single-site workforce—and will be responsible for all facets of business for the resort, including its four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios) two water parks, 28 resort hotels, four golf courses, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and the Disney Springs entertainment-shopping-dining complex.

5/18/20 9:01 AM
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Tackling real-world problems, alumna partners with Auburn Engineering’s 100+ Women Strong and Corporate Relations

At a time when the future seems uncertain, Rekha Menon-Varma, a chemical engineering graduate, offers solutions. Vertaeon – the business she co-founded – provides assessment tools and mitigation solutions for risk management. More specifically, Varma’s business focuses on enterprise and supply chain risks and sustainable operations.

5/3/20 9:58 AM
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Auburn alumni couple give back to their alma mater

Michael and Kelly Keyser met on their very first day at Auburn University. Both Michael and Kelly are from Alabama – Kelly from Birmingham and Michael, Fairhope – and both did not originally plan on going to Auburn. Kelly had anticipated going to a smaller, out-of-state school, and Michael originally thought he wanted to go to school in the Northeast. But like so many others, the couple knew Auburn was the school for them after visiting campus in high school.

4/29/20 2:02 PM
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Auburn Engineering alumnus announced as new ECS President

Engineering Consulting Services (ECS) announce the promotion of Tony Fiorillo, '92 civil engineering, to President of the ECS Group of Companies effective as of April 15, 2020.

4/28/20 1:03 PM
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Young alumna advocates for Auburn Engineering

Jasmyne Brown, ’17 industrial and systems engineering, is an advocate for all things Auburn Engineering. As a student, she was a Cupola Engineering Ambassador, a member of the Academic Excellence Program and a mentee for 100+ Women Strong.

4/20/20 12:03 PM
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Auburn Engineering online provides new opportunities for connection

Working in software development for the federal government in Huntsville, Tara Battle, ’18 mechanical engineering, is the chief engineer of her department. Her career in defense spans many years and areas of expertise. Battle has worked for the government since 2010, and after moving to Huntsville, she decided to go back to school. But she did not want to slow down with work to get her degree.

4/7/20 11:02 AM
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Young alumna finds joy, connection in mentorship

As a student, Manda Tucker, ’16 industrial and systems engineering, loved Auburn Engineering. Looking back, she says she “doesn’t remember sleeping much,” with late nights spent studying and preparing for projects. But even with the hours of work she put into her engineering degree, she loved every minute of it.

3/26/20 11:01 AM
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CROY expands water resources capabilities with Auburn civil engineering alumna

Full-service consulting firm Croy Engineering announced the addition of Melanie Head, '13 civil engineering, PE as its new municipal utilities director. Head is charged with continuing Croy’s commitment to provide consulting engineering services in the water resources arena, including water and wastewater system design, while also expanding the firm’s footprint in this practice across the Southeast.

3/24/20 11:01 AM
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Alumnus, Hall of Fame inductee honored through local news

Kenneth Kelly, Linda DuChrame and David Mobley were each inducted into the 2020 Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in early February. Kelly was further recognized by local news in his Georgia hometown.

3/17/20 11:57 AM
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Engineering alumna talks Frito-Lay productivity

Making the drive from the largest Frito-Lay facility in North America, Katelyn Rheinlander came to Auburn to spend the day with current and perspective students during E-day. She then took the opportunity to sit down with the communications and marketing podcast team to talk about her position at Frito-Lay, her experience as an Auburn Engineering alumna and member of 100+ Women Strong.

3/6/20 1:07 PM
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Auburn Engineering alumna featured in Canadian Biomass news

Ritu Linhart is the general manager for Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s Aliceville wood pellet plant in Alabama. A process engineer by trade, Linhart had a diverse career in chemical engineering, business, R&D, and academia before turning to the wood pellet industry. After six years in the industry, she was hired on to lead Pinnacle’s U.S. wood pellet plant and is now likely the first woman heading up a pellet operation in North America.

3/5/20 11:07 AM
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Auburn Engineering alumna, 100+ Women Strong member encourages students to soar

Next to the tall windows in Paula Marino’s office sits a bronze eagle. The statue – which rests proudly upon a nearly 3-foot high platform – is a lifelike replica. It’s not an Auburn eagle, “but it’s also not not an Auburn eagle,” said Paula Marino, ’92 and ’95 electrical engineering.

2/13/20 8:03 AM
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Hoover’s longtime city engineer and Auburn Engineering alumnus ends 43-year career

The man who has been Hoover’s city engineer for the past 20 years has retired, ending a 43-year career in engineering. Rodney Long was hired as Hoover’s city engineer in 1999 after serving 16 years in the private sector and seven years with Jefferson County. He retired from Hoover at the end of 2019.

1/24/20 1:06 PM
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5 minutes with Jan Davis

Jan Davis is a 1977 mechanical engineering graduate who enjoyed a distinguished career at NASA as an engineer, astronaut and executive and now serves as a leader in private industry.

1/2/20 12:05 PM
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It's my job: John Carter

A good day is a day in the gym. I visit a lot of NBA teams, a lot of NCAA teams. I visit a lot of our customers on a regular basis, so a day in the life might be delivering on the challenge to make their teams better.

12/30/19 2:05 PM
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2019 in review: Top Auburn Engineering stories of the year

There’s no denying it was a big year for the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. From opening the brand new Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center to enjoying a banner year in research, the college had no shortage of notable achievements.

12/31/19 9:13 AM
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To the moon and back, in 50 years

Millions watched from their television screens, and others in person, as the Saturn V rocket took flight to carry Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon. Jim Thomas and his wife-to-be Pat observed from a unique perspective as the spacecraft slowly lifted from Launch Pad 39A. He worked for seven years with Wernher von Braun’s rocket team to help give it the ability to do just that.

12/22/19 10:10 AM
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Sailing through life, civil engineering alumnus charts future for Auburn Engineers

John Steele Henley II, ’63 civil engineering, is not your average retiree. At 80 years old, he races his sailboat competitively. In mid-April, Henley takes his 21-foot racer Brat out of storage, dusts off the residual winter ice and gets out on the cold Virginia waters.

12/15/19 8:08 AM
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For Pete's Sake

It’s a long, crazy story that he pretty much just chalks up to divine intervention, because he says there is really no other way to explain it. But before you read any more about how, once upon a time, he quit his engineering job to paint pictures of an ugly little cat that somehow became a beloved children’s book character so popular Leonardo DiCaprio’s manager helped turn it into an animated Amazon Original series, James Dean ’82 needs you to know something.

12/9/19 7:05 AM
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From basketball to engineering to patent law – a philanthropic journey back to Auburn University

A student phone call sparked a philanthropic relationship for aerospace engineering alumnus.

11/21/19 1:18 PM
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‘Climate Change Is the Next ISIS’: Meet the World Economic Forum’s First Iraqi Female Board Member

Alumna Basima Abdulrahman ,'14 civil engineering, is an Iraqi entrepreneur and green architect. Her business is changing the game for climate activism.

11/8/19 11:07 AM
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Civil Engineering Advisory Board names two emeritus members

A pair of civil engineering alumni — Jeff Stone and Dale York — were recently honored with emeritus member status on the Civil Engineering Advisory Board.

11/5/19 10:57 AM
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Electrical engineering alumnus offers expertise at House Subcommittee hearing

Kenneth Kelly, '90 electrical engineering, chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, has been called to provide expertise during a House Subcommittee hearing regarding Minority Depository Institutions.

10/23/19 10:07 AM
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Aerospace engineering alumnus receives dual honors from AIAA

Chris Crumbly, ’88 and ‘95 aerospace engineering and member of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation Board, has received not one, but two awards from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

10/22/19 2:07 PM
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Element Hires VP of Customer Success and Transformation

Element announces hire of Steve Beamer, '84. mechanical engineering as the vice president of customer success and transformation.

10/11/19 1:05 PM
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Imperial Oil Ltd. appoints new president; CEO R.M. Kruger announces retirement

Auburn Engineering alumnus, B.W. (Brad) Corson, '83 chemical engineering, appointed president of Imperial Oil Limited effective Sept. 17, 2019.

9/18/19 12:00 AM
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Two Auburn engineering graduates named 2020 lifetime and young alumni award recipients

Two Auburn engineers, Joe Forehand Jr., ’71 industrial engineering, and Dion Aviki, ’04 chemical engineering, are among the five Auburn University graduates recently selected to receive the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Awards and Young Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honors given by the Auburn Alumni Association...

9/17/19 11:56 AM
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Engineering alumnus joins Marquis Advisory Group as executive

Auburn University alumnus, Robert Holmquist, '72 electrical engineering and '76 MBA, joins Marquis Advisory Group as executive, senior associate.

9/16/19 10:58 AM
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The Legend of Nelda

After becoming the second woman to earn an aerospace engineering degree from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in 1969, Nelda Lee went on to a phenomenal 45 years in flight and ground test engineering with Boeing. On April 29, 1980, Nelda Lee became the first woman to fly an F-15 Eagle, the plane she helped design and devoted nearly half a century to.

8/1/19 12:00 AM