Vandegrift Award for Outstanding Co-op Student of the Year

2019 Winner

Andrea Walker

Andrea Walker
Ms. Andrea Walker, a senior computer engineering student, completed her co-op rotations with ADTRAN, Inc., a telecommunications networking equipment company located in Huntsville.
Cooperative education involves 3 semesters of full-time employment with an industry related to the student’s major. Co-op is a gives students the opportunity to test drive their career before graduating and allows them to narrow down their field of interest. As Andrea explains, “Each semester I was able to gain valuable hands-on experience that is very different from being in a classroom and explore different areas within my major that were of interest to me. As a result, I was able to determine that digital design is the area I am most interested in pursuing for my career.”
Andrea shared that the best part about working for her co-op employer, ADTRAN, Inc., was the colleagues she worked with who were so willing to further her knowledge and invest in her future. “I enjoyed working as part of a team each semester, and every person I interacted with was willing to take the time to explain concepts to me and was genuinely interested in helping me develop as an engineer.”
Co-op students gain hands-on technical experience while on the job, and they also learn valuable soft skills that further promote the career-readiness of Auburn graduates. “Working as a co-op has also helped me gain experience in collaborating with others as part of a team in a professional engineering environment and develop effective communication skills. Having developed a solid foundation of hands-on skills, I firmly believe a full year of work experience will be a major asset as I seek employment in the future.”
Andrea was selected based on her academic and work performance by a committee of faculty and administrators in the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. After she graduates in December 2019, Andrea is interested in pursuing a master’s degree in computer engineering from Auburn University. She then hopes to pursue a career in digital design in her hometown of Huntsville, AL.

About this Award

Each year a single co-op student is chosen to receive the Frank Vandegrift Award.  This award recognizes Auburn's most outstanding engineering co-op student for the year.

Frank Vandegrift was born in Birmingham, Alabama.  He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1948 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.  In 1949, Frank received a Master of Arts degree from Columbia Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. During World War II, Frank served in the US Army for three years in the Pacific area. In 1944, Frank married Catherine Franklin of Birmingham, Alabama.  He served as an industrial missionary of the Presbyterian Church in the Belgian Congo from 1950-1960, and upon returning to the states worked as a Distribution and Industrial Power Engineer for three years with Alabama Power Company.

For the next twenty years, Frank was employed with the Cooperative Education (Co-Op) Program at Auburn University, serving as its Director from 1966 until his retirement in 1984. Frank served as chairman of the Cooperative Education Division (CED) of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) as well as President of the International Cooperation Education Association. His awards in the field of Cooperative Education include the Alvah K. Borman Award and the Clement J. Freund Award from the Cooperative Education Association (CEA); the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award for Service to mankind by the New York Southern Society at Auburn University; and the Award as Father and co-founder of the Alabama Cooperative Education Association (ACEA). In 2006, Frank Vandegrift was inducted into the Cooperative Education Hall of Honor.

Frank was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church and served on the Board of Trustees of the Medical Benevolence Foundation while doing technical and construction work at Presbyterian mission hospitals in Zaire (Congo) and Kenya during 1985-1997. Approximately 100 gifts of iron sculpture artwork crafted by Frank hang in homes, churches, libraries, and University locations. Frank and Catherine had one daughter, Frances Osteen.

Information courtesy of The Augusta Chronicle, March 29, 2001

Frank Vandegrift

May 12, 1924 - March 27, 2001

Last modified: September 4, 2019