AEP helps engineering students find their college home at Auburn

By Virginia Speirs

Published: Sep 18, 2020 8:25:00 AM

MaTais Caldwell, AJ Jackson and Calvin Dulaney MaTais Caldwell, AJ Jackson and Calvin Dulaney

The Engineering Academic Excellence Program (AEP) is designed to help and encourage minority and underrepresented students on their path to graduate from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. The program supports students from pre-college to graduation through academic and professional development workshops, collaborative study groups and one-on-one peer learning. AEP has become an especially valued resource for students who transfer to Auburn after attending a community college.

Candi Vann is a transfer student specialist and an academic advisor for Auburn University’s Engineering Student Services. In her role, she works closely with AEP staff to make sure the transition to Auburn Engineering is as smooth as possible for the diverse pool of the college’s transfer students. 

“We have created specialized programming to meet the needs of our transfer students to include a dedicated transfer advisor, transfer information sessions for prospective students, transfer sections of Engineering Orientation and special events for our transfer students to engage with faculty, staff and other transfer students,” she said. “One of our key campus partners is our alliance with AEP to help serve a large portion of our minority and underrepresented students by providing opportunities and building relationships they would have otherwise gone without.”

MaTais Caldwell, senior in computer science, is one of many students who joined AEP upon arriving in Auburn. Caldwell transferred to Auburn after completing an associate’s degree at Central Alabama Community College.

“Joining AEP was one of the best decisions I ever made because it allowed me to find a group of people that I could not only work with academically but who look like me,” Caldwell said. “Getting involved in AEP led me to find the National Society of Black Engineers here on campus and both have opened so many doors for me.”

Another student, Calvin Dulaney, is a senior in mechanical engineering and AEP member. Dulaney transferred from Coastal Alabama Community College after spending two years studying there. He said that AEP made Auburn feel like the right choice after community college, and made the university feel like home.

“AEP has made everything easier for a couple of reasons,” Dulaney said. “The co-lab sessions are very helpful because they are student-led. AEP also keeps me informed about what goes on around campus, and that is really helpful, as well.”

AJ Jackson, senior in aerospace engineering, transferred to Auburn after two years at Southern Union State Community College in Opelika. Like Dulaney and Caldwell, she joined AEP when she arrived on campus.

“I love the community aspect of the program, as well as the skill-building aspect,” Jackson said. “You really feel welcome, and people are always willing to help you.”

Jackson said that she feels very blessed to be able to attend one of the top engineering institutions in the south, and that AEP has made her feel much more comfortable at Auburn, especially being a female in her chosen career path. She offered some advice to fellow female engineering students.

“Always try to get to know your fellow female engineers, because we’re all in this together,” Jackson suggested. “We have to come together to help one another and make great things happen.”

All three students gave advice for any incoming transfer students interested in the AEP program, including getting involved, getting to know your professors, staying up to date on your homework and not being scared to ask questions.

“And make friends,” Jackson said. “Making good friends is very important.”

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery, cmontgomery@auburn.edu, 334.844.3668

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