A standing-room only crowd was on hand at the UAB Alumni House Tuesday evening to watch as nearly 120 UAB engineers were inducted into the Order of the Engineer. The students included those who graduated in August and December 2016, as well as those who will graduate this spring. The students formally accepted the Obligation of an Engineer and received a stainless steel ring to be worn on the fifth finger of the working hand as a symbol.
“Tonight you are officially joining the profession of engineers, and I hope this event is something you will always look back on with pride, just like I do when I think about the journey you’ve taken with us to get to this point,” said School of Engineering Dean Iwan Alexander, Ph.D. “More than 15,000 individuals are inducted each year, and as you join those ranks, it is your responsibility to foster a spirit of pride and to uphold standards of dignity of the engineering profession.”
After rings were presented to students from each of the five undergraduate departments, SOE alumnus Mark Berry, Ph.D., delivered a keynote address. Berry is vice president for environmental affairs for Georgia Power, and as he shared his experiences of his engineering career, he offered a challenge. “Many of you will be tasked to solve some of society’s greatest problems,” he said. “It will be your responsibility to solve them safely, with sound scientific principles, and in a way that makes sense financially. You should accept those challenges, no matter how daunting.
“Just because you don’t know something, doesn’t mean you can’t know. Don’t be afraid to take those chances, and you will learn a lot about yourself in the process.”
Hands-on learning has long been a priority for the UAB School of Engineering, but for one group of 2017 undergraduates, education and experience are just two parts of a bigger picture.
Academic Small Business Alliance (ASBA) to pair engineering interns with local diverse business enterprises (DBEs). These enterprises include a wide variety of small businesses—from non-profits to entrepreneurial start-ups—and those settings add an element of community involvement that might not always exist in a traditional internship.This year, the School of Engineering is partnering for the first time with the
“There are several things I find fascinating about this program,” says Desland Robinson, ASBA internship coordinator and director of Career Services for the School of Engineering. “It’s a program that allows UAB to give back to the community by providing great talent to small businesses that might not have a lot of resources, whether financial or in terms of manpower. At the same time, it provides our students with a different type of experience.”
Those experiences, Robinson says, may include more responsibility in some instances, but more often the difference is in the amount of freedom the student has within their internship roles. “When our students intern with some of the larger corporations, they often are assigned to roles that require specific tasks,” she says. “In these DBE internships, an intern may perform similar tasks, but he or she might be interacting with clients or handling other aspects of the business at the same time. The result, we hope, is a wider range of experiences for our students.”
Tackling the concussion crisis in football is at the forefront of sports safety research and development. Through a new partnership, VICIS and a team of UAB researchers led by mechanical engineering professor Dean Sicking, Ph.D., are combining expertise and intellectual property to bring more effective helmets to the market.
“Football helmets have been designed to prevent skull fracture, and they do a very good job at that,” Sicking said. “But helmets have not evolved to address concussions. A VICIS/UAB partnership can change that.”
With industry-leading experts in both engineering and medicine committed to promoting safety in sports, UAB researchers and physicians have advanced a multidisciplinary effort that reaches from basic science labs to large clinical studies to address traumatic brain injury.
Initiatives include those of the UAB Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic at Children's of Alabama, UAB's Vestibular and Oculomotor Research Laboratory that conducts research to identify markers of concussion in athletes, and the UAB School of Engineering, where football helmets can be tested against forces that can cause concussions and where design of better materials for football helmets are being advanced.
VICIS, a Seattle-based company, was founded to develop new football helmet technology that shows significant reduction in impact forces. The partnership with UAB adds expertise to the VICIS team, which is already bolstered by an advisory council that comprises experts and innovators from science and sport, as well as industry partners that have the ability to help make real progress in protecting athletes.
With $4.3 million in funding for fiscal year 2016, the department ranks fourth behind the BME departments of Stanford, Johns Hopkins University, and Oregon Health & Science University. The rankings are published by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, which lists all NIH funding for U.S. medical schools.
The UAB BME Department is included in that medical-school listing for the first time, after becoming a joint department in the UAB Schools of Engineering and Medicine in 2014. Although the department is 11th in NIH funding in the UAB School of Medicine, it is the only UABSOM department that ranks in the top 10 nationally against its peers.