Civil graduate online student says distance learning is “challenging, but rewards worth it”

By Karen Hunley

Published: Jul 15, 2020 12:00:00 PM

Kevin Plyler Kevin Plyler

Kevin Plyler, Master of Civil Engineering online student


Q: When did you start your graduate online program and when do you expect to finish?
A: I started in fall 2018 and expect to graduate in spring 2022.


Q: What were you up to before?
A: I graduated from Auburn in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and have been working as a design engineer for Southern Company in Birmingham since January 2017. I also married my wife, Rachel, in 2018 and we recently had our first child, Helen.


Q: What made you decide to join this program?
A: While going through the undergraduate program, I gained interest in wanting to get a master’s degree. However, I knew I wanted to start my career and family before continuing my education. Upon graduating and settling into my job, I began researching universities that offered online Master of Civil Engineering programs. In addition to being well-respected on a national level, Auburn’s online engineering program was a great fit because of familiarity and the relationships I had established with the faculty as an undergraduate student. Choosing Auburn for the second time in my academic career was an easy decision.


Q: What has been your personal experience so far with the 100% online format?
A: The online format has been great for me. The demands that come with working full-time do not allow for much free time during the week. The online format provides me the flexibility to watch class lectures and understand the course material at my convenience, while still being treated like an on-campus student.


Q: Would you have gone back for your master's if not for the fully online option?
A: I would not have been able to pursue a master’s degree without the fully online format. The time constraints that come with working full-time and starting a family would not have allowed me to be a traditional on-campus graduate student.


Q: How do you expect this graduate degree to enhance your professional life?
A: From a professional standpoint, I feel as if the coursework I have completed has already been beneficial. Not only have my technical skills and expertise improved, but I have also broadened my knowledge of new research and standards within the world of civil engineering that will help me as I continue in my career. I firmly believe that obtaining this degree will help me achieve my professional goals and provide opportunities that otherwise would not have been possible.


Q: What would you tell someone who was thinking about applying to an Auburn Engineering Online program?
A: As someone who had doubts about pursuing my master’s degree in an online program, I understand some of the concerns and challenges from those who are considering applying. If they are serious about continuing their education, I would advise giving Auburn a chance. It will be challenging, but the rewards are worth it. The faculty members truly want their students to succeed and would be willing to assist in any way they can to help you achieve your goals. Auburn offers a great opportunity for individuals to obtain an engineering master’s degree no matter what phase of life they are in.

Media Contact: Karen Hunley,, 334.844.2224

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