Future Auburn students visit Alabama Power to learn about engineering

Future Auburn students visit Alabama Power to learn about engineering
Leaders talk with incoming Auburn University freshmen about opportunities in engineering at Alabama Power's corporate headquarters in Birmingham. (Tyus Underwood/Alabama NewsCenter)

The annual STEM Summer Bridge Program helps incoming underrepresented Auburn University students prepare for college through mentoring, tutoring and scholarships. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

During a four-week period, the program collaborates with Auburn University’s Academic Excellence Program (AEP) and the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) Office of Inclusion to assist incoming freshmen.

Students attend science and math classes along with a computer engineering course and other activities. The program also gives students the opportunity to build on skills such as teamwork, communication and accountability.

Cordelia Brown is the AEP program’s director and said she hopes each student understands the opportunities and options that are available in engineering.

“The goal for the program is for students to learn new skills in engineering while building leadership, teamwork and problem-solving ability,” Brown said.

On Friday, June 14, the students visited Alabama Power in Birmingham to meet with several engineers and tour the headquarters. Distribution manager for Southern Division K-Rob Thomas leads Alabama Power’s effort to support the program.

In addition to Thomas, Transmission line service supervisor John Trentham was one of several employees to spend time with the students.

“I hope the students get a better understanding of the work we do in Transmission and even spike some interest in the subject,” Trentham said.

T.J. Pruitt, an engineering supervisor in Clanton, said the program specifically works with underrepresented students.

“There is emphasis on mentoring to help students excel in college. Another added benefit is that several of these students through the years are eventually recruited to come back to work full-time as Alabama Power employees,” Pruitt said.

One such example is Aureale Vann, an engineer at the company’s 12th Street service building in Birmingham.

“I know the importance of the program because I was once a student in it. The program is a great start for many future engineers to go on to Auburn University and do great things. Bringing these students to Alabama Power helps them learn about the company, what we do and how our team operates,” Vann said.

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