Corey Cooper, '05 ME

Corey Cooper, '05 ME

1. What brought you to Auburn and to major in engineering?

Bote fly fishing

It sounds cliché, but Auburn brought me to Auburn.  My choice of where to attend college was down to Georgia Tech and Auburn to study Mechanical Engineering, and comparing the two locations, it was a no brainer.  I’m not a fan of Atlanta. The atmosphere in the town of Auburn was exactly what I wanted for my college experience. 

I pretty much knew I wanted to be an engineer from about the age of 6; I just didn’t know it was called engineering. At that time I called it destroying and fixing! For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to know how something works, from building bikes, guitars and tree houses as a kid, to taking the hardest math classes in high school because it intrigued me. I chose mechanical because my personality is very physical, and I relate more closely to those things “mechanical” in nature.

2. Tell us your story about your path as an engineer and an entrepreneur to develop the BOTE concept.

After graduating from Auburn in 2005, I decided I wanted to stay around the Auburn area and pursue an engineering career.  Also, as fate would have it, I had just met a girlfriend on graduation night and wanted to stick around with her. She became my wife four years later!  I took a job with a textile machine company located in West Point, Ga., and it was a real birth by fire into the engineering world.  I was one of two mechanical engineers who worked on multi-million dollar textile machines, and my knowledge and experience seemed to double every day. 

After about a year in West Point I had an offer to work on Eglin Air Force Base as a test engineer.  Eglin happened to be located near the only other place I like more than Auburn, which are the beaches of Destin, Fla. While working at Eglin I was exposed to so much.  I designed slow cook-off ovens to destroy sections of missiles, solenoid triggers for M2 machine guns, mount systems for the GAU-8 Gatling gun, and other unique opportunities.  More importantly I became a good project manager as I was the designer and project manager of many of the tests.

It was while at Eglin and living in Destin that I developed my new career path.  In Destin, we live our life around the water and in 2008 the blossoming sport of standup paddle boarding was just spreading its roots in Florida. If you haven’t heard of it, google it; you’ll be hooked.

 Everyone who “saw” the sport was fascinated with it; it looked like a lot of fun, but the problem was the fun ended when they tried to “do” it.  It was hard and required skill, mainly because of the design. I gave it a try and immediately said to myself, I could make this much better. That’s the engineer in me.

So, I started from that and decided to make my own boards.  My original goal was to make a board that actually functioned well and could serve as more of a watercraft than what currently existed on the market, something that people could relate to.  I came up with the brand name BOTE (pronounced boat) as a play on words to give the brand a personality with very little description needed.  I wanted my stand up paddle (SUP) boards to be a personal self-powered boat!  

3. How did your Auburn engineering education prepare you for what you are doing now?

Auburn was hard. At least it seemed hard when cramming in school, with work and the various night life around Auburn!  I think layering all of the chaos of being a student was the most crucial part of my college career and definitely translates into real-world practice.  Time management is probably the number one asset I took away from Auburn.

Owning a business I quickly realized there is only one of me and anything else I wanted done, I had to pay for it, and then most of the time do it again myself.  I think for the most part, Auburn really helped me understand the concept of how to do something and then actually do it.  While there is a certain amount of help you can get from classmates or professors, I really had to rely on myself to make things happen, and I don’t know if I could have gotten that same experience had I decided to skip college. Whether you’re self-employed or work for someone else, becoming efficient at what you do and working with a sense of urgency makes all the difference in the world. Even Superman only has 24 hours in a day.

4. What advice would you give young engineering alumni from Auburn?

Never, never, never give up.  I wish I could take credit for that Winston Churchill quote.  That is how I live my life and is the only way I have been able to get through some difficult times.  To get something you want, a lot of time you have to be willing to suffer for it. A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of last second decisions, a lot of not knowing how you are going to go one more day.  No one is going to make it easier for you. You are the only one who can make things better. Never give up.

Last Updated: 5/17/17 10:39 AM