Educational Initiatives at the University of Alabama, Birmingham

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Summer 2014

For 2014, UAB implemented a new K-12 program, the  Sustainable Smart Cities Youth Champions program. Sponsored by the  Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, it will work towards educating middle school students attending inner-city Birmingham City School System schools about the responsible management of natural resources, and how responsible management improves many facets of quality of life. Through teaching the importance and benefits of protecting the environment at an early age, UAB is taking a hands-on approach at helping to nurture responsible adults and better communities through providing hands-on learning opportunities to inner-city youth. 

Previous Slide 1/3 Next Students from the 2014 Summer Enrichment Program study a green roof <span style="font-size:10px">&nbsp;Students from the 2014 Summer Enrichment Program study a green roof&nbsp;</span> 2014 Summer Enrichment Program students attend a civil engineering lecture <span style="font-size:10px">&nbsp;2014 Summer Enrichment Program students attend a civil engineering lecture&nbsp;</span> Middle school students build solar cars as part of the Youth Champions Program <span style="font-size:10px">&nbsp;Middle school students build solar cars as part of the Youth Champions Program&nbsp;</span>

The program consists of four visits to UAB on Saturdays between February 8th and March 1st. Each session addresses one of four topics within sustainability, including sustainable transportation and energy conservation, environmental quality, a field trip, and the health and liveability of cities. Students will learn how to incorporate these topics into designing new cities for the future, on both the large, city-level scale, and the small, everyday life scale. More information on the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center may be found here.

In addition to the Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center, through UAB educational initiatives, seven undergraduate students have been provided internships with local transportation agencies, and the Summer Enrichment Program has provided transportation engineering training to 17 freshmen and sophomore minority students. The middle school Youth Champions Program has also provided education and learning activities related to transportation for around 45 middle school students. 

Summer 2013

In 2013, the University of Alabama-Birmingham implemented a twofold approach to its educational outreach activities. These programs include a K-12 Transportation Program and a university-level Summer Enrichment Program; the former was held late in the 2013-2014 school year, in conjunction with the City of Birmingham, Alabama, while UAB hosted the latter during the past summer. 

The goal of the 2013 Summer Enrichment Program was to increase the number of competent, well trained minority engineers, researchers, and transportation professionals working on transportation issues of importance to the Southeastern region and the nation. In partnership with the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, as well as the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center and Alabama’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the SEP was a highly competitive program that helped prepare students for enrollment in engineering school and exposes them to transportation engineering-related career choices.

Previous Slide 1/4 Next NCTSPM SEP students present the results of their research <span style="font-size:10px">&nbsp;NCTSPM SEP students present the results of their research&nbsp;</span> NCTSPM SEP students with the UAB Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Powered Bus <span style="font-size:10px">&nbsp;NCTSPM SEP students with the UAB Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Powered Bus&nbsp;</span> NCTSPM SEP students talk with Dr. Fouad Fouad of the UAB School of Engineering <span style="font-size:10px">&nbsp;NCTSPM SEP students talk with Dr. Fouad Fouad of the UAB School of Engineering&nbsp;</span> NCTSPM SEP students at a program commencement ceremony <span style="font-size:10px">&nbsp;NCTSPM SEP students at a program commencement ceremony&nbsp;</span>

Photos from the most recent session, in June of 2013

The UAB Summer Enrichment Program hosted six freshman-level minority and female students on the university’s campus for one month. Through the program, these students studied topics related to technical writing, research methods, transportation infrastructure, transportation operations, congestion management, and environmental issues, while exposing them to contemporary transportation issues and generating interest in transportation engineering as a potential future career choice. The Summer Enrichment Program paired students with faculty mentors in related fields, and for the duration of their stay, students performed research work in their chosen field.

Student posters included:

"Low Impact Development of Transportation Infrastructure" Richard Ellis
" Civil Engineering and Sustainable Materials" Dikarius Blevins
"Smart Structures and Graphene: Nanoelectronices and Nanocomposites in Bridges"nbsp;Lamario Williams
"Traveling into the Future" Loretta Andrews
"Detecting Potential Sinkholes Near Vehicular Roadways Using Remote Sensing" Regene Tell

Ellis’ project, in conjunction with Dr. Jason Kirby, focused on five techniques of low impact development, such as bioretention, permeable pavers, cisterns, soil amendments, and inlet control devices. Blevins’ research on “Civil Engineering and Sustainable Materials” examined three materials which have traditionally played a large role in civil engineering, and analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of each. These three materials considered included concrete, steel, and wood. Williams, who was mentored by Dr. Ian Hosch, researched the applications of graphene  nanoelectronics and nanocomposites in bridge building as well as general civil engineering applications of the material.

Andrews was also mentored by Dr. Hosch, and the focus of her research centered on how large amounts of data could be used to increase efficiency in transportation fields, while Tell, who was mentored by Dr. Robert Peters, focused on remote sinkhole detection. Tell’s work identified three major means of remote sinkhole detection, including airborne laser technology, uninhibited aerial vehicle synthetic aperture radar, and infrared thermography.

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