Life at Auburn University – Pursuing Aerospace Engineering in Sweet Home Alabama
Eric writes about the difficult decision to go to school thousands of miles from friends and family, what inspired him to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering, how Dublin High School prepared him for the rigor of an engineering curriculum and provides advice for high school students who are completing their senior year in preparation for the transition to college.
OneDublin.org: You’ve decided to attend a college far from home, in Auburn, Alabama. Was that a difficult decision?
Eric Turner: “When I was applying for colleges the summer before my senior year at Dublin High School, Auburn was among the furthest schools I chose. It was easy to apply to Auburn because I had my sights set on staying in California and really I had no initial intention of going there. During February of my senior year, my grandfather and I decided to tour Auburn and it was that weekend that really sold it for me. Auburn’s campus is absolutely gorgeous and it was tough to go back and tour colleges in California after because of how beautiful it was. With that said, it wasn’t the campus that helped me make my decision to become an Auburn Tiger. What really set Auburn apart from other schools was how much the students really enjoyed the school. The sense of school spirit and pride was unmatched anywhere else I looked and it was this love that people had for Auburn that drew me to love it as well.
“As the summer after I graduated began to come to an end, I started to hesitate whether or not deciding to move to Auburn was a good idea. There were so many friends I had to leave and I would have to be more than 2,000 miles from my home and family. I really had no idea what I was in for when I committed to living so far from everyone I knew. Looking back now though, leaving California was a great for me because it has given me a chance to experience something new and given me a better perspective on how great living in the San Francisco Bay Area is. College to me has really been about trying new things and growing as an individual and it has done so much more than that. Leaving California was absolutely a difficult decision to make but it was one that I would recommend to anyone.”
OneDublin.org: What sparked your interest in engineering in general, and specifically a major in Aerospace Engineering?
Turner: “When I was little, I was the type of kid that was constantly playing with LEGO. In many ways, I think that I can trace my initial interest in building things and working with my hands to this point. It was not until my sophomore year in high school that I became passionate about pursuing an actual career in engineering. While attending DHS, I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to take Principles of Engineering, Introduction to Engineering Design, and Digital Electronics. I had three very enthusiastic and passionate teachers that made me excited to be in class and look forward to it every day; Ms. Chou, Mr. Uken, and Mr. Calvert. It was somewhere amidst these classes that engineering became the career path I wanted to pursue.
“My father has been in the aerospace industry my whole life so I was exposed to spacecraft and satellites at a pretty young age. I always looked forward to ‘Bring Your Kid to Work Day’ because I would get to go with my dad and see some of the amazing projects that he had a part of. Studying Aerospace Engineering at Auburn is really a dream come true for me because I get to learn more about machines and technology that I am fascinated by.”
OneDublin.org: How does an engineering curriculum compare to high school? Did Dublin High School’s AP curriculum play a role in helping the transition?
Turner: “My engineering curriculum at Auburn is pretty challenging to say the least. In high school, I took AP Psychology and AP Calculus so I was not as prepared for how difficult college would be as some of my peers. In my experience with classes at Auburn and the two AP classes I took, the workload is very similar. Dublin High School’s AP curriculum is a great way to prepare for college so that the transition is much easier and you have an idea of what to expect. In college, the material is a lot more difficult and abstract so carrying on a good work habit from high school is very important in helping students succeed.
OneDublin.org: What role did athletics play as part of your high school experience, and have you carried that into college?
Turner: “At DHS, athletics were a very important part of my life. I played both high school and club soccer for 3 years and have continued to play intramural soccer in college. To me, soccer wasn’t about winning as much as it was about being with my friends on a team. In both high school and college, soccer has played an integral role in helping me meet people.”
OneDublin.org: What’s it been like going to college so far away from home, and in a part of the country very different from California?
Turner: “Going to college in a small town in Alabama has been an interesting experience. It was a huge culture shock because most of the people who go to Auburn are from small towns. Regardless of the different backgrounds though, it surprised me to how much a lot of us had in common. Many of my friends and I all watched the same TV shows and listened to a lot of the same music. Auburn football is always a good conversation topic if I’m having trouble connecting with someone.
“Being so far from home has taught me to be a lot more independent. At home, I didn’t have to do things like schedule doctors appointments or grocery shop but now I have to do a lot of these things on a weekly basis. I really did not understand the extent to what my mom did for me in high school until I was on my own.”
OneDublin.org: What advice do you have for seniors who are just now receiving their college acceptance letters, and for juniors who are thinking about college applications for next year?
Turner: “My advice to Dublin High School’s seniors is to try getting out of your comfort zone. Trying new things and opening yourself up to new experiences is something that has been very rewarding to me and it is a very important aspect of college. Don’t be afraid to get involved, if there is something you might be interested in, go check it out. Find things that you really enjoy and care about doing and meet others who also enjoy those same things. Another very important piece of advice I’d like to give is to work hard and not lose focus of why you’re going to college. Make sure you have fun and enjoy it but remember that college is expensive and that you owe it to yourself and your family to work hard.
“My advice to Dublin High School’s juniors is to apply to schools that are outside of California. My brother Andrew who is also a junior had always wanted to stay in California for college but after he came and visited me at Auburn and went to an Auburn football game, he really wants to apply to schools in the South East. Make sure you keep on working hard and secure your grades so that it opens up your options for school. Give yourself the freedom to apply to anywhere you want to go so that you can chose a college that you will really enjoy and love.”
At the Dublin High School 2013 Senior Awards Night Eric Turner earned a Dublin United Soccer League Scholarship and was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member.