Robert Peters, Ph.D., P.E., and three students from the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering recently attended a conference in Alexandria, Egypt, where Peters gave a keynote address on the potential of geographic information systems and drone technology.
The conference, the 9th Alexandria International Conference on Structural and Geotechnical Engineering, was held at the Helnan Palestine Hotel over three days in late December.
Above, Robert Peters is presented with a plaque (right) acknowledging his keynote address at the 9th Alexandria International Conference on Structural and Geotechnical Engineering.
In his keynote address, Peters described the recent interactions between the CCEE department and Egypt, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that supported nine UAB students and faculty in a Study Away course last spring—as well as a separate NSF travel grant that allowed Peters to bring students to Egypt for separate workshops throughout the year.
While those workshops have typically focused on wastewater and pollution prevention, Peters’s keynote address turned attention to a different subject—examining how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones, can be paired with a geographic information system (GIS) to perform a variety of tasks—such as construction, thermodiagnostic, and bridge and dam inspections.
“Advances in drone technology have opened up a number of possible research areas that before were often impossible because of cost,” explained Peters. “We looked at projects in the past where the cost exceeded $60,000 to get access to an aircraft, not to mention pilots and equipment.”
In the relatively short history of online education, the UAB School of Engineering has established itself among the best in the nation. In the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings, released on Tuesday, UAB was ranked 28th overall in online engineering graduate programs and 14th in online graduate programs for veterans.
The online master of engineering program is among five UAB graduate online programs that appear in the rankings, joining programs from the Collat School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Nursing. Additionally, the university was rated No. 63 overall for its offerings of online bachelor’s degree programs, which puts UAB in the top 27 percent in the nation.
“At a school that has always stood for innovation, our online graduate engineering tracks are a real point of pride,” says School of Engineering Dean Iwan Alexander, Ph.D. “By its very nature, education demands that we adjust to keep pace with technology and online habits of our students, and these latest rankings show that our faculty members are on the right track with the ways they continue to develop their online curricula.”
Adapting to a Virtual Classroom
UAB’s online engineering programs have received rave reviews over the years from alumni for not only the quality of training, but also the ability of instructors to connect with students in meaningful ways. UAB’s two newest MEng programs are led by instructors who continue to teach traditional, on-site courses while also leading graduate online programs.
Jason Kirby, Ph.D., leads the Sustainable Smart Cities master’s program, while Christopher Waldron, Ph.D., leads the Civil Structural Engineering program. They were both asked to share their thoughts on the challenges of adapting to a new educational format.
The School of Engineering currently offers a master of engineering (MEng) degree in five different online tracks:
- Advanced Safety Engineering and Management (ASEM)
- Construction Engineering Management (CEM)
- Civil Structural Engineering (CSE)
- Information Engineering and Management (IEM)
- Sustainable Smart Cities (SSC)
Faculty from the UAB Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) are working on ways to ease the current and future problems of traffic congestion, thanks to a $14-million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
In December, the USDOT designated a consortium of 10 Southeastern universities as the Region 4 University Transportation Center led by the University of Florida. The consortium, which is named the Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development, and Education (STRIDE) Center, will use the $14 million over the next five years to develop novel strategies for reducing traffic congestion.
UAB Transportation Engineering and Development Lab (TRENDLab), which will be engaged in the STRIDE study.Virginia Sisiopiku, Ph.D., associate professor of transportation engineering in CCEE, is the associate director for STRIDE on the UAB campus. She also is director of the
STRIDE builds on a previous consortium—the University Transportation Center—that existed under an earlier grant that had a much broader focus. Under the current grant, STRIDE will focus specifically on traffic congestion through the use of new technologies available in vehicles, telecommunications capabilities, and shared autonomy in transportation.
In a career that spanned more than 35 years, Dr. Martha Bidez helped make the world safer place. After earning multiple engineering degrees from UAB, Bidez led a distinguished career in both the academic and private sectors that established her as one of the nation’s foremost authorities in safety engineering.
“When you read about the history of UAB, you often see the word “pioneer” used to describe its leaders, and that word certainly suits Martha Bidez,” said Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., dean and professor of the School of Engineering. “Her success as an entrepreneur speaks for itself, and the Advanced Safety Engineering and Management program she created will continue to serve as a lasting legacy. Her contributions won’t soon be forgotten.”
|“She was an advocate for those who had no voice, and she encouraged those who needed strength to find their own."
--Donald Burke, Ph.D., ASEM Director
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Bidez graduated with high honors in biology from Auburn University in 1979 before turning her focus to a career in engineering. She earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from UAB in 1985 and a master’s and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 1983 and 1987, respectively. Soon after, she became a senior scientist with the UAB Injury Control Research Center. She was the first woman to be named “Young Engineer of the Year” by the Engineering Council of Birmingham in 1988.
“As her faculty advisor and friend, we enjoyed decades of interactions,” said Jack Lemons, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering as well as in the UAB Schools of Dentistry and Medicine. “It is sad to lose someone who offered so much to her family, her friends, and her profession.”