For the past year, UAB IT’s Alexandra Fedorova has been spending several days a week helping to teach a new generation of potential IT employees through the TEALS program, which places tech experts in high school classrooms to give students basic computer science skills. 

“The students are all eager,” Fedorova says. “They want to learn, but most local school just don’t have the resources or experience to teach them.”

TEALS, a national program funded by Microsoft, is in its second year in Birmingham and has partnerships with nine schools, said Tracey Wilson, regional coordinator for the organization. 

TEALS provides volunteer instructors with lesson plans and assignments. Volunteers should expect to spend about an hour to two hours in the classroom twice a week, with some extra time for grading assignments or making modifications to lesson plans. The goal is not only to reach students but to teach high school teachers how to instruct students in computer science skills.

Anyone interested in volunteering for TEALS can visit the web site at tealsk12.org.
Scammers looking to steal electronics are using a new scheme targeting university stores across the country, FBI officials said.

Law enforcement agencies are warning higher education institutions about potential credit card scams involving electronic purchases.

The FBI said the scams, which began this spring, target campus bookstores and students with valid campus identification. Scammers use students to help purchase high-end electronics, particularly Apple products, using students’ valid campus IDs and a stolen or cloned credit card.

Here’s how the scam works:

  • Perpetrators coerce unwitting students into helping them purchase electronics by claiming to be current students who have lost their student IDs.
  • The unwitting students are shown a cloned credit card and identification matching the name on the cloned credit card.
  • Perpetrators accompany students to the campus store cash register and swipes the cloned credit card, while the legitimate student shows the clerk valid campus ID.
FBI officials said that in some cases, perpetrators swiped several declined cards before one was accepted.

To protect yourself from the scam, law enforcement officials recommend you:

  • Do not facilitate a purchase from someone who does not provide valid student ID — especially someone you don’t know.
  • Establish procedures at campus stores that include provisions against allowing someone to use a credit card in someone else’s name.
If you have been a victim of the scam, contact UAB Police.
UAB IT is evaluating ways to replace the current UAB Dropbox tool.

The current UAB Dropbox is nearing the end of life, or end of sustainability, and UAB IT will be evaluating options for replacing it or encouraging use of current cloud collaboration services. 

Learn more about the possible options to replace Dropbox here.

Complete a survey about those options here.
UAB’s Athletic Department has implemented a digital ticketing system for athletic events in partnership with UAB IT. 

The project will allow the UAB Athletics Department to track customer attendance, mobile ticket delivery and purchases, and ticket transfers. The project implementation will also decrease ticket printing distribution and labor expenses with the use of a digital ticketing technology.

The Digital Ticketing System was rolled out in two phases. The initial phase was implemented in Bartow Arena during the fall of 2016, just in time for the beginning of the basketball and volleyball seasons. 

"It has given the customers a positive experience that is user-friendly for fans of all technology skillsets," said Carrau Brewer, IT Project Manager said.

UAB Athletics has been able to save costs on the physical tickets, while fans have found it  convenient to download their tickets and have them scanned by a digital handheld at entry.

The second phase of the project implemented a similar system to provide the same functionality on a larger scale at Legion Field. This system will provide digital ticketing access at various gates around the stadium.  During the April 1 UAB football spring game, the system was tested and calculated more than 8,000 fans in attendance.

In addition to the digital ticketing experience, UAB IT is also in the process of looking into providing additional public WiFi access to enhance the fan experience at Legion Field. The project is scheduled to be completed for UAB’s season opener versus Alabama A&M University on Sept. 2.
TechConnect's Laptop Program has a number of new options for students — and through the summer, those computers qualify for a $150 rebate for students through Dell.

The laptop program is convenient for students because they can get service and support right on campus at TechConnect, UAB IT's technology store at the Hill Student Center. Purchases made through the Laptop Program include:
  • Educational pricing
  • 3-year premium warranty and accidental damage protection
  • Pre-loaded with UAB software
  • Loaner laptop while yours is being repaired
  • On-campus service and support
TechConnect's experts have developed recommendations for the best options for students through the Laptop Program. Visit the store on the first floor of the Hill Center or visit the web site at uab.edu/TechConnect.
GoodGames

The gift of two monitors for Good Games UAB will help the student organization with growing eSports activities on campus — activities that help foster innovation.

Windstream donated the two monitors to the group on Wednesday, May 24.

“Our thanks to Windstream; these monitors are invaluable to us,” said Michael Pitts, president of Good Games UAB, or gg.UAB. “We also want to thank UAB IT for their continued support. We would not have the infrastructure to do what we do without you.”

Good Games hosts a number of gaming events on campus, including its largest, BlazerCon, which attracted more than 500 people in April. The student organization is part of a growing eSports, or online gaming, trend. About a quarter of millenials say they watch eSports daily. There are 1,600 club programs across the country, with 600 universities involved — and 11 universities even have varsity teams.





UAB Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. said gaming is about having fun — but it’s also about innovation. Supporting the group makes sense because UAB IT wants “partnerships with young people at UAB who think in a different way,” he said.

“The members of GoodGames think outside the box, they are very diverse, and believe it or not, they are quite social,” Carver said. “They want to change the world.”

Windstream representative Greg Jenkins said he attended BlazerCon and was excited to see so many young people involved.

“I saw the diversity among those who attended,” he said. “It was a fantastic thing.”

Pitts said involvement in Good Games has given members leadership experience and helped them develop goals to grow gaming and eSports.

“We want to build an all-inclusive gaming community,” he said.
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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.
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Two new staff members joined UAB IT last month after graduating from the Innovate Birmingham Workforce program, a unique grant-funded program designed to connect young adults in the Birmingham area to high-demand IT careers.

The inaugural class of Generation IT students graduated from the Innovate Birmingham Workforce program on May 5 during a graduation ceremony held at Railroad Park.

For Allante Jowers and Tristian Scarborough, the opportunity is one they don’t take lightly. Both are new technicians on the AskIT help desk, which recently earned a fivefold improvement in its customer service rating.

Jowers said he is prepared to “carry (the opportunity) to the finish line.” He aspires to merge his love for cooking and technology to create a business that innovates Birmingham.

Prior to enrolling in the Innovate Birmingham program, Jowers was a student at UAB majoring in information systems with a minor in business management. Scarborough has been working on a second novel. Their new roles in AskIT are only a first step in helping them to achieve their ultimate goals of owning their own business.

“This puts my life and family’s life in a better position by creating a better direction for all of us,” Scarborough said. He is still figuring out his next steps in life, but knows he wants to “be impactful and push the limits as far as he can go.”

Jason Johnson, associate director for AskIT, said, "UAB is honored to have the graduates from Innovate Birmingham on our team. They are very eager to contribute and have already started using their skills learned in the program. We are very excited to have this opportunity for Tristian and Allantè to grow their information technology career with UAB."

The inaugural class consisted of 18 students, all from the Birmingham area. Other graduates had secured job offers from companies including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Regions Bank.

“Invest in the talent of young people, and they will rise to the moment,” Josh Carpenter, director of external affairs at UAB and principal investigator for the America’s Promise grant, told those assembled at the graduation.

UAB President and Birmingham Business Alliance Chairman Ray L. Watts said, “An opportunity like this for our area young adults through the Innovate Birmingham Workforce program is just one of many ways Birmingham is making sure innovation will thrive in the coming years. I want to thank all our partners for their leadership and congratulate the talented graduates for their hard work. We all wish them the best in their new and exciting careers.”

The graduates completed the 12-week program that involved intensive technical and professional training at Innovation Depot. The Innovate Birmingham Workforce will train and prepare young adults to fill 925 high-wage jobs by 2021.


Protecting yourself online also helps protect everyone. Follow these six recommendations to better protect yourself online and make the Internet more secure for everyone:

  • Fortify each online account or device. Enable the strongest authentication tools available. This might include biometrics, security keys, or unique one-time codes sent to your mobile device. Usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts such as e-mail, banking, and social media.
  • Keep a clean machine. Make sure all software on Internet-connected devices — including PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets — are updated regularly to reduce the risk of malware infection.
  • Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it. Information about you, such as purchase history or location, has value — just like money. Be thoughtful about who receives that information and how it is collected by apps or websites.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Cybercriminals often use links to try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • Share with care. Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it, and how it could be perceived now and in the future.
  • Own your online presence. Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It is okay to limit how and with whom you share information.
student computer

Faculty at UAB have begun using a new automated communications tool in Canvas that allows them to send messages to students who have missed class or who have not logged in to view information about the class.

Instructors across campus have found that the tool not only benefits the students, but also the faculty in the classroom.

Stephen Yoder, assistant professor in the Collat School of Business, said the automated alerts not only helps to remind the students to remain committed, but Yoder has also found that “I am engaged as well.”

The intent of the messaging is to increase student engagement and retention.

Alerts can serve as the guardrail for students who may need a wake-up call to “nudge them back on track,” as Josh May, assistant professor of philosophy, describes it.

“The alerts are especially useful for online classes,” May said, since students are not required to physically attend in-class lectures.

The alerts work for classes big and small, notes Mitzy Erdmann, instructor in the Department of Chemistry.

“The alerts are easy for instructors to set up, and I will definitely use them in the future,” Erdmann said.

Faculty members can use the automated alerts through their faculty profiles in Canvas.