Auburn Engineering alumna, 100+ Women Strong member encourages students to soar

By Lauren Winton

Published: Feb 13, 2020 8:03:00 AM

Paula Marino Paula Marino

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. There’s a long story there, of the legacy of the eagle and how it ended up in Marino’s office.

But what the eagle represents, in many ways, reminds Marino of what Auburn University represents – excellence, determination and, as Marino says, “a reminder of how one can truly soar.”

Throughout her illustrious career, Marino has shown the drive, passion and dedication necessary to be an exceptional engineer and a great leader. One of just a handful of women in the electrical engineering program during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Marino faced her share of doubts and adversity.

“There were always people who said I couldn’t do it. ‘Why would you want to be an electrical engineer?’ they’d ask. But that sort of negativity, that expectation that I couldn’t do something, drove me to push harder,” she said. “It’s the reason why I went on to pursue my master’s degree. It was a personal goal of mine to excel in my field.”

And excel, she certainly has. Marino is a member of the distinguished State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame and has received numerous awards, including the Auburn University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Industrial Advisory Board Outstanding Alumni Award in 2016, the Engineering Council of Birmingham’s (ECOB) Engineering Leadership Award in 2015 and Engineer of the Year in 2012. Marino is the executive vice president of Southern Company’s technical and project solutions organization. Her résumé, to say the least, is impressive.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Marino is her dedication to people – to her husband and three daughters, to her organization – all 1,500 individuals she leads – and to her Auburn Family.

“The people in our organization are world-renowned,” Marino said. “They are world leaders in their technical area. It is incredibly humbling to work with such a tremendous group of people.”

Marino’s role is all about making connections, about solving problems and paving the way for her highly talented people to do what they do best.

“I think one of my favorite things about my role is the ability to make a difference,” Marino said. “I’m passionate about Southern Company and I’m passionate about Auburn.”

Through her love for Auburn, and her tenacity, drive and dedication, Marino has found ways to volunteer and make a difference. Her and her husband’s philanthropic support has certainly played a substantial role in elevating Auburn Engineering. She has served on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Council and the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council.

Her hope to make a difference to whatever she does has made Marino a great asset to Auburn, especially through her efforts with 100+ Women Strong.

“The program is extremely valuable. Auburn Engineering is different. The coursework and the opportunities to be involved on campus combine to make something truly special. I always tell students that as an engineer, you’ll come away with an excellent technical education,” Marino said. “But being an Auburn Engineer means something else – there’s something special about the Auburn Family. Relating to people, connecting with people... it makes a difference as an engineer.”

In addition to the relational and technical skills students learn at Auburn, Marino says Auburn Engineers learn a “superpower” at school.

“Common sense,” she said. “Auburn Engineers have common sense. And today, I really consider that a superpower. When graduating, you can take away an excellent education, interpersonal skills, a practical application of the theory we learn and a common sense superpower.”

Marino believes graduates of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering have everything in their toolkit to be extremely successful in the engineering world. No matter their background, students who come to Auburn have the ability to succeed.

“If they put their minds to it, they have the ability to soar.”

To learn more about how to support the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, contact the Office of Development by visiting eng.auburn.edu/admin/development.

Media Contact: Lauren Winton, lmw0090@auburn.edu, 334.844.5519

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