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Huntsville, Alabama (July 22, 2016) – Nearly 30 incoming Auburn University freshmen travelled to Huntsville on Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23 for hands-on tours of several top-notch engineering companies and defense organizations on Redstone Arsenal.
The Auburn students are part of the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program (AEP). The primary objective of the AEP is to increase recruitment and enhance retention of underrepresented engineering students to graduate from Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. One of the goals of the Summer Engineering Enrichment Program is to assist incoming engineering and computer science freshmen with academic and professional development as they transition into college.
“We are excited about the opportunity for AEP students to explore engineering options in the Huntsville area,” said Cordelia M. Brown, director of the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program. “We believe that the engineering exploration presented in this unique series of tours, panels, and discussions provide an impactful way to catapult AEP students into critically thinking about engineering career pathways as they are pursuing their academic studies.”
The two-day orientation tour gave students an incredible opportunity to discuss specifics of engineering pathways and career opportunities in Huntsville, and to personally visit with company/organization co-ops, interns and young professionals.
On Friday, students toured ADTRAN, Dynetics, and AMRDEC—the Software Engineering Directorate (SED) and Prototype Integration Facility (PIF). On Saturday, the group participated in a private breakfast with Todd May, center director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Students also met with Rodney Robertson, executive director of Auburn University’s Huntsville Research Center, which connects Auburn University’s research capabilities with agencies and industries in Huntsville.
“As an engineering company, we are continually looking to recruit the best and brightest students to be part of our workforce,” said Kevin Heering, senior vice president of quality and administration, ADTRAN. “We are hopeful that programs like this will result in increased involvement by women and minorities in the engineering field. We want these students to get a glimpse of what a career in engineering is like and encourage them to return to Huntsville to fulfill their career aspirations.”
AEP supports participants from pre-college through graduation by focusing on expanding academic preparation, professional readiness and exploration of career paths. The preparation, readiness and exploration are facilitated through a wide range of programs and activities to support participants. This nationally recognized program has been in existence since 1996, and has been the catalyst for graduating some of the nations brightest underrepresented engineering students.
“As a technology and engineering company, a long term Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics pipeline is critical to our business,” said Steve Cook, Vice President of Corporate Development, Dynetics. “We want to encourage these young engineering students to realize their dreams right – here in the Rocket City."
Exposing students to the work being done at AMRDEC is a strategic priority that allows the Army to showcase and educate students on real-world Army research capabilities.
“While our organization’s primary mission is to provide warfighters with state-of-the art equipment and technology, we are aware that we need to nurture our youth to ensure a capable, STEM literate workforce for the future,“ said Mr. James B. Lackey, AMRDEC Director.
The visit was organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County to introduce Auburn students to our area’s workforce opportunities for engineering grads here in Huntsville. The Chamber would like to thank ADTRAN and Dynetics for their generous financial support that helped make the tour possible.
Our mission is to partner with industry, education and community stakeholders to ensure Huntsville/Madison County has sufficient quantity and quality of talent to meet employer needs and support our sustained growth,” said Lyndsay Ferguson, Director of Workforce for the Chamber. “The AEP program is a perfect example of how important these partnerships are to prepare future talent to fill high-demand careers in the Rocket City for years to come.”