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Giving back to Auburn Engineering through scholarship and mentorship

By Bethany Deuel

Published: Aug 11, 2022 7:55:00 AM

Keith Jones’ story proves that an Auburn education really can take you anywhere, and then bring you back to Auburn. For Jones, it has taken him worldwide, writing software for manufacturing processes for everything from vacuums to rockets to theme park rides with his software engineering company. 

Jones received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 1984 and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 1986 from Auburn before starting Prism Systems Inc. in Mobile soon after. While he and his two co-founders’ first project was for one of the world’s largest candy producers, engineers at Prism now work in more than 40 countries around the world in sectors including entertainment, telecom, food and beverage, discrete manufacturing, and process control.

“I owe a lot of my success to Auburn. I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t be here today doing what I do if I hadn’t gone to Auburn. The connections I made there pushed me to this path,” Jones said.

While working toward his second degree, Jones was taught by a professor who was in the process of starting his own company and hired Jones upon graduation. This entrepreneurial opportunity gave Jones valuable experience in working for a startup. After two years, Jones was ready to start his own company.

“One thing that holds people back in starting companies is a lack of self-confidence. This is the case more often than it is a lack of abilities,” Jones said. “It’s a very difficult thing to step out and be on your own while it’s easy to take the safe road. I was encouraged throughout my entire education process to be able to make those tough decisions.”

Diversity and service are big priorities for Jones and his wife Alison, also a successful entrepreneur. Jones is committed to developing a more diverse workforce within his own company and has found unique and personal ways to serve his alma mater with a focus on those same ideals. When accepted to the Engineering Alumni Council, Jones volunteered to join the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The Joneses have also established an endowed scholarship within the college, creating new opportunities for underrepresented students in Auburn Engineering.

Most importantly to Jones, he has found ways to mentor Auburn Engineering students and recent graduates. Jones is an invested supporter of the GAVLab, the home of Auburn’s autonomous racing team. There, Jones has met a pair of students to mentor and guide as they take on the challenge of creating their own business, continuing the cycle of generosity in the Auburn family that helped bring him to where he is today. 

“My business success is a product of my Auburn education, hard work, and appropriate opportunities,” Jones said. “There are people today that need those same opportunities, and those who are in a position to help should.”

Media Contact: Bethany Deuel, bcd0048@auburn.edu, 334.844.5519

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