CIO meeting showcases how UAB is advancing community IT excellence

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Keeping information technology at the forefront of strategic planning helps advance not only UAB but also the Birmingham community, UAB and city leaders told members of the Alabama CIO Leadership Association Thursday, May 25, at a meeting of the group on campus.

“There is no question that IT is at the center of everything we do,” said UAB President Dr. Ray L. Watts said, noting that to achieve a world-class health system and provide resources for ground-breaking research, a strong IT infrastructure is key. “The role of IT is advancing our mission. Continued strategic planning around IT is vital for our organization.”

Watts credited UAB Vice President and Chief Information Officer Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. with making great strides in improving UAB’s technology infrastructure, security and research computing over the past two years.

“It’s hard to believe how much we have accomplished in the past two years under Dr. Carver,” Watts said.

Among the IT accomplishments at UAB since June 2015 are one of the fastest university supercomputers in the Southeast; the fastest university internet in the state; and a more than fivefold improvement in the service rating of the AskIT help desk.

But UAB is also taking a leading role in improving the technology ecosystem in Birmingham — in fact, enhancing the community of IT excellence is one of UAB’s seven IT imperatives.

UAB is working to extend its successes to the community at large, with the expansion of the 100GB network to Innovation Depot expected by this fall, which will give the city a competitive advantage when attracting new businesses.

UAB has also partnered with Innovation Depot and other businesses on a grant to train new technology employees in the community.

The first Innovate Birmingham class graduated in May, with 15 of the 18 graduates taking jobs at local businesses, including two at UAB IT.

The new workforce initiative is giving young people opportunities to succeed — and helping to supply the growing need for technology employees, said Josh Carpenter, UAB director of external affairs, principal investigator for the America’s Promise grant that paved the way for the Innovate Birmingham program.

Innovation Depot has been a partner in Innovate Birmingham, housing the classes for students and taking an active role in the program. Director Jennifer Skjellum said building partnerships in the technology community is key to growing Birmingham.

“Our overall mission is to grow the technology ecosystem — and to make sure there are a lot of ecosystem partners,” she said.

Carpenter said the city can be a role model for even larger metropolitan areas through programs such as Innovate Birmingham.

“Birmingham is small enough to create alignment,” he said. “That’s extremely rare in large cities. We’re small enough to move the needle on something like youth unemployment, but large enough to provide scalable solutions.”

Bob Crutchfield, operating partner with Harbert Growth Partners, said UAB is a “crown jewel” for the city.

“UAB has been an igniter for a lot of the things we are trying to do in downtown Birmingham,” he said.
Last modified on May 26, 2017