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Kate Champion

Senior, chemical engineering; minor, business administration

Kate Champion is a fourth-generation Auburn engineer. As a senior, she looks back on growing up in Vidalia, Ga., as well as forward to becoming a part of the Southern Company family when she graduates from Auburn's Department of Chemical Engineering in May.

1. How did you decide on engineering?

I'm a fourth-generation Auburn engineer. My dad is an electrical engineer, my granddad is a civil engineer and my great-granddad was a chemical engineer. My cousin is studying mechanical engineering at Auburn. But, that's all from my dad's side of the family. Most of my mom's family went to Alabama. I know that a lot of people say this, but it was my campus tour that sold me on Auburn. I saw that it was a place that valued family and friendship. When I got to Auburn, I was a chemistry major, but I wasn't sure where I wanted that to take me for a career. I went to see an adviser, and when we started talking about the hands-on, challenging problem solving that I was looking for, engineering just seemed to be the perfect fit, so I moved into chemical engineering. I'm also getting a minor in business administration.

2. What does it mean to be the chair of Cupola Engineering Ambassadors?

I'm the Cupola Engineering Ambassadors' executive chair. Cupolas are the College of Engineering's student ambassador group, so my job is to oversee the executive committee, plan our group's calendar and coordinate events, activities and meetings. We support Dean Larry Benefield's office through student recruitment, alumni relations and collegewide functions – our mission is to promote, unify and serve.

3. When you're not in class, where do you spend most of your time?

I am in Shelby Center a lot, between my job working in the dean's office, Cupola and being a peer adviser. Last year, I helped Dr. Bob Karcher, who is the director of engineering student services, start a program and write a handbook for peer advising in engineering. We work with engineering's mandatory advising requirement to get students involved outside of their classes and schedule their pre-engineering advising. During Camp War Eagle this past summer, we used this new program for a trial period, and it worked so well that seven of us began advising our peers for their mandatory sessions this fall.

4. What is it like being a Georgia girl in Alabama?

When you're from Vidalia, Ga., everyone assumes you're an onion farmer because Vidalia is known for them … it smells like onions there six months out of the year. One time I tried to pull an onion out of the ground before it was ready - before they cut the green top off. Just about everybody in Vidalia knows when an onion is ready to be picked, except me! That was when I knew I needed a college education. Actually, I don't even like onions! But I was our town's mascot, Yumion, for the Vidalia Onion Festival one year. It's the last week in April, and we have an onion cook-off, eating contest, airshow, street dance and crafts festival. I guess I have a lot of town spirit … I think that's where I learned to take pride in where you're from and what you're a part of. I'm proud to be a part of Auburn, too.

5. What's your favorite Auburn memory?

Last March, when it snowed in Auburn! That was the first time I've ever seen snow. Some friends and I made snowmen and had a snowball fight on campus. We even took pictures in the snow with Aubie … also, when I was offered my position with Southern Company. After graduation, I'll begin a full-time position with Southern Company's subsidiary Mississippi Power at a coal-fired power plant overseeing capital projects as a plant engineer. I'll be working at Plant Daniel in Escatawpa. I began co-oping with Southern Company during the summer of 2008. I worked at two coal-fired power plants, participated in a water treatment plant outage and spent time in the engineering department alongside Southern Company engineers in each maintenance department, including instruments and controls, operations, mechanical and electrical. I can't wait to go back to being a part of their organization in just a few months!

Feb. 14, 2011