Recently, the School of Engineering partnered with alumni who are employed at Southern Company Services, Alabama Power and Southern Nuclear on a first-of-its kind crowdfunding experiment in which current employees raised money for future co-op participants and interns.
One month later, the experiment ended as a resounding success story. In just 30 days, UAB’s engineering alumni contributed more than $4,200 toward the scholarship effort. With potential matching funds from the company still to come, the fund is expected to be nearly triple the initial goal of $3,000.
“The School of Engineering has a long history with Southern Company,” says Leann Neal, director of alumni affairs for the School of Engineering. “The success of this effort says a lot about our graduates and the pride they feel in both their school and their company. We hope this will be the first step toward similar collaborations in the future.”
Over the past year, UAB has had some success with a variety of crowdfunding initiatives. This is the first time, however, that an effort has focused on a specific group of donors, creating a “giving circle” that benefits both organizations. “We are very excited about the success of this project specifically because we tend to think about mass-appeal when considering the viability of a potential crowdfunding project,” says UAB Senior Director of Annual Giving Randy Kinder. “However, in this case the goal was to bring together a core group of like-minded alumni and enable them to make a collective impact. And, that is exactly what they did.”
Dozens of alumni contributed toward the total of $4,215, with gifts ranging from $25 to $250. Southern Company employees (excluding Alabama Power) who contributed must submit requests for the company to match their individual contributions.
For many biomedical engineering students, the pursuit of a graduate degree is an investment in the future—a valuable training ground for tomorrow’s employment opportunities.
But for one unique UAB student, opportunity called sooner than expected.
Lindsay Miller chose UAB because of the multi-faceted experience she could get through biomedical engineering graduate program and the Certificate in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship program in the Collat School of Business. Unlike other students, however, Miller’s education isn’t preparation for some future payoff. She actually completed her education as part of a new career at Birmingham-based Southern Research, where she landed a full-time job that paid her to conduct thesis-related research, which she was able to continue at Southern Research after graduation.
With the 2011 Alabama tornado catastrophe still lingering in the minds of many, UAB research has led to the creation of new technology designed to help save lives in a natural disaster.
Materials Processing and Applications Development (MPAD) Center were installed as an integral component of a safe room in a new-construction home in the Montgomery area.In June, tornado panels designed by engineers in the
Uday Vaidya, Ph.D., MPAD director and professor and chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, worked with Storm Resistant Systems and Cooper Structural Engineers to scale the panels for use in this home. The safe room is designed in accordance with FEMA standards to withstand 250 mile-per-hour winds, and was built to remain intact even if the house were destroyed during a strong storm, keeping its occupants from harm.
The UAB panels were approved by the National Storm Shelter Association to hold up against an EF5 tornado.
Thirty-Day Fundraising Effort Starts July 14
The UAB School of Engineering and Southern Company have a longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship. Each year, dozens of UAB undergraduates participate in co-ops and internships with the company, gaining valuable experience to supplement their engineering education and often using the experience as the first step toward a career with the company.
This week, UAB is launching a new crowdfunding campaign to strengthen that relationship even further by establishing the Southern Company Co-op Scholarship.
Over the next 30 days, UAB graduates currently working at or retired from Southern Company will attempt to raise $3,000 to fund scholarships for co-op participants from the School of Engineering.
“These scholarships mean so much, because they take some of the financial burden off of the students and allow them to focus on getting the most out of their education, rather than worry about how it will be funded ,” says current co-op student Katie Sheibley. “This will not only alleviate some of that financial burden, it will also provide an opportunity that really adds value to the educational experience.”
"This is the beginning of something that I hope will continue to benefit students long after our time at UAB," adds fellow co-op student Stephen Kelley. "It obviously benefits the students who receive financial assistance, but I believe it also benefits Southern Company by helping recruit the top engineering students to the company."
The scholarship will support UAB engineering students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who are currently completing a co-op or internship at Southern Company.