The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is involved in a number of community outreach activities designed to increase visibility of the department, the School of Engineering, and UAB, as well as to introduce young people to basic engineering concepts.
Led by SOE Director of Outreach Abidin Yildirim, Ph.D., our faculty and staff work throughout the year to open young minds to the world of engineering. If you are interested in inviting ECE faculty or students to attend an educational event in your community, please contact us.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), has developed a Continuous Collaborative Comprehensive STEM program with Innovation Inception (C3-STEM-I2). In collaboration with industry and the community, this program allows a group of underrepresented high school students to participate in hands-on engineering activities at UAB for three years, with emphasis on the development of critical thinking skills, creativity, and practical experience. Students learn modern principles of physics using the classic Einstein and Infeld book The Evolution of Physics, creating electrical and mechatronic systems, and participating in scientific discussions. Creativity is extremely important in engineering and science, thus, innovation is highly encouraged in the program, and the ECE department provides rapid device prototyping to test the ideas of the participating students. Mentors from the ECE department also shadow students to improve their progress and help them with the hands-on experiments.
This is the second year of the program, and UAB will work to expand the program into middle schools, high schools, 2-year junior colleges, and 4-year historically black colleges and universities. We also anticipate the program expanding to other universities, starting with our collaborators at Mississippi State University.
Our society is in permanent need of highly trained professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) areas. Different kinds of learning or physical disabilities may prevent some students from considering a career in STEM. This is especially regretful when their abilities exceed that of their peers. The UAB ECE department hosts a STEM camp where students with special needs school work together with students without a disability. We hope that this social event helps develop a curiosity for science and technology and to improve critical thinking, which is essential for a successful STEM career. The camp provides an introduction to the electrical and computer engineering discipline through various hands-on experiments and demonstrations, including: controlling robots, when acquiring visual information from the video camera and IR sensor mounted on the robot, learning the beauty of math through exploring function representations and other mathematical structures, learning electrical circuits and their applications, and developing algorithms to produce exciting visual effects in real time by using a simple video camera and computer. The students learn to use office software to present their knowledge and ideas. It is known that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. We intend to use this project as a starting point for developing a continuous program of STEM outreach activities.