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Caroline Whiting doesn’t picture her favorite campus memory — she hears it. A biosystems engineering alumna and former member of the Auburn University Marching Band (AUMB) who played the clarinet for three years, Whiting described what it was like to perform pre-game shows at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  

“We line up in a tunnel right before the game and … it’s so loud. You can’t hear anything except the roar of the crowd. All you can see is the drummers tapping so you have to trust that everybody else is on the right foot,” Whiting remembered. “But it’s a very surreal experience to come out of the field and perform pre-game with the AUMB.” 

After working for a consulting firm for a year following her graduation in 2018, Whiting returned to the Plains and the department as a research engineer and was recently recognized as one of four Employees of the Year.  

Over the past five years, Whiting’s role as a research engineer has evolved. When she began, she provided technical support for the department’s gasifiers, assisted with engineering designs for department personnel, lead the UAV program, managed the biosystems recruitment and established a positive safety culture in the department. Nowadays, she has taken on an additional role for the department by serving as a project manager for the two largest grants in the department: Auburn University Rural Partnership Institute and GRACE (Green Reimagining of Agriculture in Controlled Environments). 

One of her favorite work memories has been seeing the excitement of potential students at Engineering-Day, Auburn Engineering’s annual open house, where she organized tours of the biosystems engineering building for potential students and coordinated BSEN student volunteers. As both an alumna and current employee, Whiting said she has “a lot of great things to say” about the department.  

“I always loved Auburn when I was here, but I didn’t really know what to expect working here, and it wasn’t really what I expected — in a good way. It sounds really cheesy, but sometimes you just know it’s the right path,” Whiting said. “I’m very blessed because some people have jobs and it’s just a job. But for me it’s the culture of the department and the university that makes it more. People, too. Having a great team makes it the full Auburn experience.”

A man wearing a suit, a woman wearing a green dress holding a young toddler smile for a photo

Whiting with her husband, Josh, and their son, Elijah.

Department chair and Whiting’s nominator Oladiran Fasina has known Whiting and her husband, Josh, since they were both biosystems engineering students and has now witnessed her outstanding contributions to the department as an employee.  

“Caroline is significantly involved in the ability of our department and university to meet the three land grant missions of research, instruction and outreach/extension,” Fasina wrote in Whiting’s nomination. “Her contributions to our mission have been excellent and extraordinary.”  

Fasina also was the person who coordinated for Whiting’s husband, to get her almost 2-year-old son, sister, mom and grandmother to surprise her at the ceremony.  

“Even at the awards ceremony, I knew they were going to pick somebody, but there’s a lot of really great people that work here that do a great job, so obviously somebody else was going to get it,” Whiting said. “But it’s nice to know that what you do matters. It’s nice to know that what you work on, somebody sees and that it makes a difference.” 

When Whiting was touring colleges back in high school, Auburn came out on top. “It had a feeling about it, it just felt like home,” she recounted.  

And that same unnamable feeling Whiting had while visiting campus for the first time is one of the same reasons why she came back and has stayed as an employee.  

“I was here as a student, now I’m married and have a family. It’s fun to watch my son experience the Auburn traditions. We got to roll Toomer’s for the first time a little bit ago,” Whiting said. “Initially, I came back because I love Auburn, and I felt like it was the right place for me to be. But now, I’m staying because it’s what I want my son to experience in a culture and town.”

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