Forging new paths, engineering alumna gives back through 100+ Women Strong

Published: Jul 15, 2021 10:00 AM

By Lauren Winton

The path from civil engineering to president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber may not be the clearest, but it was one Katie Kirkpatrick, ’95 was happy to trail blaze.

Kirkpatrick knew from an early age that she wanted to go to Auburn. And with her high school success in math and science, she had her career picked out as an engineer.

“My parents went to Auburn, and my cousins did as well,” Kirkpatrick said. “I actually applied to Clemson and Auburn, but when I received my Auburn acceptance and was awarded a scholarship, I knew I was going to be an Auburn Tiger.”

In her family were not only Auburn graduates, but also Auburn professors – a fisheries professor, to be precise. Her close connection to fisheries may have inspired the first step in her career journey.

“My first job was with an agricultural company,” Kirkpatrick said. “I spent a lot of time traveling over the southeast. During my time at Auburn, I had studied civil engineering with an emphasis in environmental engineering. It was an easy transition into my first job, where I helped with solutions for waste water and air pollution.”

Kirkpatrick’s time at Gold Kist, Inc. honed her communication and interpersonal skills. She spent much time in her role translating technical jargon to individuals outside of the environmental and civil engineering field.

“Although the job was engineering, I had to use my communications skills, and this opened the door to a number of opportunities for me – corporate communications, government affairs. I started working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the poultry industry,” Kirkpatrick said. “There was a lot of policy work, and I utilized my engineering experience and degree to create arguments for sound regulations and new policies.”

She found she was a natural at public policy and regulatory work. Kirkpatrick was introduced to the Metro Atlanta Chamber by the director of the EPD in Georgia.

“I took the job, and brought with me engineering credentials and experience in the industry,” Kirkpatrick said. “Engineering teaches you how to think critically, to solve problems, and those elements are what make you successful. My degree has given me a level of credentialing and weight that has helped me succeed in my career.”

Now the president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Kirkpatrick is far away from her civil engineering degree, but she draws on her education and experience to create impact in her work.

“I feel very strongly that I have been lucky in my career,” Kirkpatrick said. “When I was in college, I don’t necessarily recall anyone talking about success beyond engineering. It has been through the connections I’ve made with women and men across all industries that have helped me realize that for engineers, the world is your oyster.”

In order to embolden and enable the next generation of engineers to pursue their careers into whatever ventures it takes them, Kirkpatrick joined 100+ Women Strong.

“I want to inspire others to look at their career paths and feel that they can do anything,” Kirkpatrick said. “It has been so rewarding to interact with the young women at Auburn Engineering through 100+ Women Strong.”

Media Contact: Lauren Winton,, 334.844.5519
Katie Kirkpatrick

Katie Kirkpatrick

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