Faculty and Staff

Dr Wilbur A HitchcockWilbur A. Hitchcock, Ph.D., PE
Director, Construction Engineering Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Wilbur “Bill” A. Hitchcock is a professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.   He is the Founder and Director of the Construction Engineering Management Master of Engineering Degree track of study.  Dr. Hitchcock has a unique blend of private sector and academic experience.  He spent five years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and more than 20 years in private industry before returning to academia in 2004.  Early in his career as a consulting engineer to major energy companies, he specialized in finite element analysis and design of leading-edge energy industry tools and equipment. He then progressed into senior management positions in energy delivery companies, specializing in natural gas transmission and storage, compressed air energy storage, and most recently waste-to-energy technology.  Through the years Dr. Hitchcock has taken the lead in developing leading-edge new technology projects and facilities from concept through project construction and commissioning.  He also led the marketing, sales, regulatory relations and strategic planning for one of the nations’ most prominent interstate natural gas pipeline companies and served as the CEO of a compressed air energy storage development company.

A native of Wyoming, Dr. Hitchcock earned a Bachelors of Science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and Master of Engineering and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.  While a graduate student at Texas A&M, Dr. Hitchcock taught courses in Engineering Economics, Construction Scheduling, Mechanics of Materials, Statics, Dynamics and Materials Testing as a full time instructor.  He returned to academia and Texas A&M University in 2004, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in the civil engineering department.  In addition to his work in the School of Engineering, he prepared a unique and in-depth graduate course in Critical Infrastructure Protection for the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.  This course was delivered online to students throughout the country.  In June of 2005,   Dr. Hitchcock left Texas to begin his service with UAB.   

Dr. Hitchcock’s research initiatives at UAB have included disaster preparation and recovery, critical infrastructure protection, and applications of technology in highway bridge monitoring.  He led a three-year initiative to conduct the first field tests in the United States of a bridge weigh-in-motion system which was developed in Slovenia.  His largest contribution to date, however, has been his participation with the Dean of Engineering and the Chair of the CCEE Department to develop an enduring Master of Engineering Degree opportunity for working professionals who are seeking specialized advanced graduate education.  Dr. Hitchcock developed the concept and curriculum for the Construction Engineering Management (CEM) path of study.   Working closely with the Dean of Engineering, Dr. Dale Callahan and the Provost’s Office, the exciting Master of Engineering Degree initiative for working professionals was approved in November 2007 by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.  Dr. Hitchcock now spends full time working to develop a national presence in quality online education for working professionals in Construction Engineering Management.   As of August 2014 CEM has over 250 graduates.

Dr. Hitchcock has been married to his wife, Susie, for 43 years, and they have three grown children.  He is an avid reader, enjoys multiple spectator sports, hacks at the golf ball, finds home improvement projects delightful, and is very grateful for the faith community of which he is a part.

Dianne GilmerDianne K. Gilmer, MEng
Instructor and Assistant Director, Construction Engineering Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Dianne K. Gilmer is an instructor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is the Co-Founder and Assistant Director of the Construction Engineering Management Master of Engineering Degree track of study.  Ms. Gilmer is a Birmingham native and received her BS in Business Administration/Finance from Samford University in 1989.  After graduation, she took a position with CB/Richard Ellis in Atlanta.  She worked for the company as an Administrative Supervisor in the Commercial Real Estate Appraisal office. She went on to take the position of a Regional Administrative Manager –Brokerage Services in the Washington D.C. region.

Ms. Gilmer returned to Birmingham in 1996 to raise her children. During this time, she was extremely active in the local community, schools and her church.  She was also heavily involved in local politics.  Once her children were both in school, she returned to industry. Technology had dramatically changed the world while she was home raising her children and she realized she must retool and re-educate.  
A local HVAC/Plumbing design engineering firm looking to hire a spec coordinator was willing to educate and train Ms. Gilmer.  Not only did she coordinate specs for the firm, she developed and launched the company’s first ever website.  She helped the company establish a successful web presence and place them in a more marketable position to maintain strong client relations.  She worked with company leaders to create a more rewarding and positive work environment for all employees.  

In 2007, Ms. Gilmer was hired to assist Dr. Bill Hitchcock in developing and launching the Construction Engineering Management track of study at UAB.  Ms. Gilmer understood that individuals must constantly be learning.  In 2009, she received her Master of Engineering degree from UAB.  Ms. Gilmer is the secondary instructor for CE 669 and 688.  She works with all course instructors in course delivery, management and communication. She serves as the Academic Advisor and is an advocate for all CEM students.  In addition to instruction, she is involved heavily in student recruiting and retention.  The success of CEM students is paramount to her.

The CEM program was initially offered on campus only.  The program has evolved and is now fully online.  Since the program’s inception in 2008, 202 students have earned their Master of Engineering degree from UAB.  Currently, 113 students are enrolled.

Fran LefortFrançoise C. Lefort, MA TESOL
Instructional Design Manager, Construction Engineering Management
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Françoise Lefort is the Instructional Design Manager for CEM.  Ms Lefort brings a unique blend of teaching experience and technical expertise from a diverse professional background to assist with the design of online instruction and facilitate the use of technology in the Construction Engineering Management Master track of study.

To help support the program’s commitment to providing a top quality online education experience within a collaborative and interactive virtual environment, Ms. Lefort spends a great deal of time monitoring weekly virtual synchronous class sessions, online activity during proctored exams, as well as punctually publishing instructional content and recorded lectures through Blackboard.  Ms. Lefort meets with faculty and students, in person or in the virtual classroom, to provide hands–on training and support.  Topics include Blackboard, lecture capture tools and virtual classroom for faculty, while students receive assistance in testing equipment, accessing course materials, and learn how to participate, present and work in groups in the virtual classroom.  Ms. Lefort is the liaison to relevant support personnel for the technologies currently in place in the CEM online Master and, working closely with the CEM team, coordinates the implementation of new tools to support CEM Distance Education goals.

Although her initial goals were teaching languages, Ms. Lefort taught French and ESL for a short time, and has worked in technology for the last 17 years, an interest developed while translating computer training materials for New Horizons Computer Learning Centers. To expand on technical skills, she took a position at National TechTeam providing computer support to Owens Corning employees worldwide.  She later joined the IT Department at the Ann Arbor District library, Ann Arbor, MI, where she developed and implemented a computer training program to enable better use of the first networked computers, and delivered hands-on training to librarians and staff.  Ms. Lefort developed and maintained the Computer Staff Training website to publish instructional materials, on-line scheduling and class evaluations.

As new technologies emerged in education, Ms. Lefort came back to an academic setting to work in the field of instructional technology since 2003. She managed the ePortfolios project at Miami Dade College InterAmerican campus, a grant project aimed at implementing electronic portfolios and integrating technology in the curriculum.  She assisted faculty with the conversion of course materials for use with on-line portfolios, provided technology training and support to faculty and students, and developed the ePortfolio website to provide resources and to showcase outcomes of the project.  Following her husband’s relocation to Birmingham, Ms. Lefort joined UAB to teach a course on Instructional Technology for the School of Education. The course aimed to prepare pre-service teachers in integrating technology in their teaching.  Ms. Lefort later joined UAB’s Instructional Technology group where she assisted faculty in designing/developing online courses and conducted hands-on training sessions on Blackboard and associated tools.

Ms. Lefort received her BA in French/English from Hunter College, NY, and her MA in TESOL – Teaching English to Speaker of Other Languages from Eastern Michigan University, MI.  Born and raised in France, Ms. Lefort came to the United States in her early twenties with the goal of improving her English and discovering America.  A US citizen for many years, she still enjoys the ongoing learning experience that comes from being exposed to very contrasting cultures.


Allen J MurphreeAllen J. Murphree, M. Eng.
Student Relations Manager/Performance Engineer
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Allen J. Murphree is the Student Relations Manager and Performance Engineer in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  In 1990, he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University, located in Marietta, Georgia.  Allen is a Certified Engineer Intern with the Georgia State Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.  After graduation, he worked in Georgia as an architectural designer for a large residential development company.  In 1991, Allen joined a Birmingham civil and environmental consulting engineering firm, which offers engineering services to municipal and county governments. There, he used his engineering education to successfully design large site development projects, storm water drainage systems, various utility systems, water and wastewater treatment plants, industrial parks, building facilities, solid waste landfills, roadways and several Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) projects. In addition to design, as the Construction Service Manager, he also provided contractor oversight, construction observation and construction management duties to protect clients during construction. In 2009, Allen became a company Vice President and was appointed as the Secretary of the Board, giving him an opportunity to take on a larger leadership role and more business duties. In 2012, he completed a Master of Engineering degree in Construction Engineering Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).  The CEM track of study provided him with the knowledge to manage more effectively, ensure strategic problem solving techniques, and enhanced business skills to better address daily financial, legal and risk issues.    

In addition to his engineering work, Allen is also a co-owner of a Birmingham residential design firm, which was incorporated in year 2001.  He is the Executive Member and chief architectural designer for all custom home and remodeling plans. Allen is an Alabama Licensed Contractor and Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD).

After dedicating over 24 years to the civil engineering, construction management and architectural fields, Allen brings his education and work experiences to the classroom. He is the Instructor of Construction Project Risk Management, and provides educational and technical support to students, instructors, professors and directors.

Allen has been married to his wife for over 14 years, and has a daughter and two sons.  The family resides in Birmingham, Alabama.


Dr Jason KirbyJason Thomas Kirby, Ph.D.
Associate Professor (Tenured)
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Teaching:
Dr. Kirby has a strong teaching portfolio that includes five UAB Civil Engineering required courses and nine electives offered at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels.  Topics address environmental engineering, water resources and the emerging field of sustainable engineering.  Courses have been offered via traditional classroom lecture, the Interactive Intercampus Telecommunication System (ITTS), Study Away and Online / Blended instruction to support student and departmental needs. Student evaluations have consistently indicated that Dr. Kirby’s teaching performance is excellent.  

In 2008, Dr. Kirby helped to develop a formal UAB academic partnership with Misr University of Science and Technology (MUST) located in Cairo, Egypt.  He was designated as Program Director of the Civil Engineering International Certificate Programs in 2009.  While, Arab Spring revolutions have hindered recent development, Dr. Kirby has been actively pursuing additional international collaborations, including a 2013 MOU with Staffordshire University (England) to pursue online education related to sustainable smart cities.

Research:
Over the past seven years, Dr. Kirby has proven to be a collaborative researcher and has helped secure in excess of one million dollars of extramural funds for UAB.  He has served as principal investigator or co- investigator on eight research grants in the areas of environmental engineering, water resources and sustainable construction.  These efforts were valuable in facilitating the graduation of thirteen Master’s students and two Doctoral students, all of whom transitioned into Civil Engineering careers.  Additional students are currently funded by ongoing research efforts.  Dr. Kirby’s work has been presented at numerous international, national and regional venues.  He has contributed to several book chapters, external research reports, and multiple publications in peer reviewed journals; in addition to preparing a number of papers for peer reviewed proceedings.  

Dr. Kirby is currently focusing his research efforts into the development of "New Green/Sustainable Building Materials."  Active /ongoing projects are examining innovative composite materials, non-traditional construction systems, energy efficient technologies, green roof installations and the comprehensive design of affordable, energy efficient residential housing which exhibits superior indoor air quality.  

University / Professional Service:
Dr. Kirby conducts extensive student outreach and recruiting activities in support of UAB’s educational objectives.  Among these efforts he coordinates the Civil Engineering department’s outreach at local high schools, science and technology fairs, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and he represents UAB Civil Engineering at the annual UAB SOE BlazerBest and Open House events.

Dr. Kirby is heavy involved in his respective professional association, The American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE), and has served as the UAB ASCE student chapter’s faculty advisor since 2005.  In this role, Dr. Kirby helps in the organization’s fundraising efforts and regularly solicits guest speakers that reinforce engineering fundamentals, the importance of professional licensure and the value of professional ethics.  He encourages students to volunteer in community outreach and has led the regional competition team to win several awards on behalf of UAB. 

In 2010, Dr. Kirby initiated UAB’s first “Order of the Engineer” link / induction ceremony.  This national organization is devoted to the promotion of engineering ethics.  
Personal:  Dr. Kirby has been married to his wife, Ellen, for 13 years and they have one young son.  He is an avid marksman, motorcycle rider, and Sci-fi movie enthusiast.


Dr_Christopher_WaldronChristopher J. Waldron, Ph.D., P.E.
Assistant Professor
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Waldron is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).  He brings a diverse mix of public and private sector experience with him to UAB that give a unique perspective to his teaching and research.  While pursuing his undergraduate degree, he worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in the Roadway Management Division, where he assisted with the development and implementation of life-cycle cost analysis techniques to prioritize infrastructure spending, and he worked for INTECH Construction in Philadelphia as an assistant project engineer where he oversaw and managed the daily operations of several subcontractors.  After completing his graduate degrees, Dr. Waldron worked as a bridge engineer at Figg Bridge Engineers where he worked on the design, load rating, and construction support of many signature bridges, including the Allegheny River Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA (PA Turnpike over the Allegheny River), the Veteran’s Glass City Skyway Bridge in Toledo, OH (I-280 over the Maumee River), the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory in Prospect, MN (US-1 over the Penobscot River), and the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minneapolis, MN (I-35W over the Mississippi River.)
Dr. Waldron was born in Hollywood, Florida, but has also spent five or more years in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Alabama living in such diverse cities as Blacksburg, Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Drexel University Philadelphia and his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, all in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Structural Engineering.  While at Virginia Tech and since coming to UAB in 2008, Dr. Waldron has taught over ten different classes ranging from the sophomore level to the Ph.D. graduate level in the areas of mechanics, structural analysis, concrete design, and construction management.  He has taught Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Structural Analysis, Advanced Structural Analysis, Reinforced Concrete Design, Advanced Reinforced Concrete Design, Senior Design, Elastic Stability of Structures, Concrete Materials, and two Construction Methods and Equipment courses.

While pursuing his graduate degrees, Dr. Waldron’s research focus was the application of new and improved materials to bridge construction.  For his Master’s research he performed experimental verification of the strength, stiffness, and mechanical behavior of fiber-reinforced polymer girders developed by Strongwell, Inc. that were subsequently used as the main load carrying elements of the Route 601 Bridge over Dickey Creek in Sugar Grove, VA.  Dr. Waldron’s Ph.D. research involved the characterization of the long-term creep and shrinkage properties of several high strength / high performance concrete mixtures being implemented by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to better estimate the effects of long-term prestress loss in girders cast using these concrete mixtures.  Since coming to UAB in the Fall of 2008, Dr. Waldron has continued to focus his research efforts on improving the design and construction of bridges.  He has completed projects investigating the effects of heavier trucks and higher truck volumes on the bridge network and investigated ways to improve the accuracy of bridge load rating through the use of weigh-in-motion data and by calibrating finite element models of the bridge with load tests.  He is currently working on a project to aid in the design of prefabricated and fast-track construction techniques for a pedestrian bridge in Alabama.  In addition to his research, he continues to practice engineering as a structural consultant to UAB Design Build Services.

Dr. Waldron has been married to his wife, Sally, for 11 years, and they have three children…all boys.  He enjoys spending time with his family, watching home improvement shows, fixing things, and being outdoors.