March 15, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
Today begins the final transition of Eric Powers’ college career as a cross country and track athlete, and the senior middle distance runner is relishing the move from indoor track to the outdoor season at the Georgia Relays.
A much bigger transition is right around the corner.
Soon after he graduates in May with a degree in chemical and biomedical engineering, Powers will switch into the “real world” with a job as a process engineer at an ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge, La.
Chances are he’ll ace the move. He has, after all, aced everything to date.
Powers, 22, will soon receive the 2013 Tau Beta Pi Cup Award, the highest honor given to a graduating senior in the College of Engineering. It comes with a cash award, and is sponsored by Dr. Narl Davidson, a retired associate dean in the College of Engineering.
How does one win the Tau Beta Pi Cup? Well, Powers’ 4.0 grade point average had a little something to do with it.
His career path unfolded before him steadily as he grew up in Charleston, S.C., almost as if it were engineered.
“I always liked solving problems and figuring things out … and I knew I wanted to be an engineer,” he said. “Early on I realized that I really enjoyed the sciences and the math courses. I took AP chemistry, AP biology, AP calculus, AP statistics …
“I also took AP English and AP European history and those were fun, but I really liked the practicality of being able to solve problems and things like that. I really enjoyed AP chemistry in high school. I figured I’d start out in chemical engineering and see how I like it, and if I need to change I can. It turned out that it really fit me well.”
Powers will plunge right into work with ExxonMobil, where he said his job will be to, “make sure the processes are working properly, optimizing processes, dealing with any complications that arise, and creating new procedures.”
At Tech, Powers has been on several successful distance medley relay teams, has run well in cross country in the falls, and today will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in Athens. Last season, he won the event at the Central Florida Invitational with a time of 9:10.55.
His time as both a student and an athlete is winding down.
“I’m ready to see what the real world is like, and I’m excited about that, but I’m definitely going to miss the college environment, hanging out with my roommates and my teammates, and all my friends, and having all these people around me enjoying themselves and studying the same things,” he said.
“I like the camaraderie, and the sense of being part of the Tech community, that’s probably what I’m going to miss the most.”
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