UAB and Birmingham Public Library joint program wins award to help aspiring teen engineers

Teens Engineer will provide after-school programs at area Birmingham Public Library branches.

teen engineersWith the grant, Teens Engineer will be able to provide after-school programs for students at the BPL’s Central, Southside and Woodlawn libraries during the 2016-2017 school year.  Teens Engineer Birmingham, a UAB School of Engineering outreach effort through the Birmingham Public Library, was selected as the recipient for the 2015 Community Impact Grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund.

The program will receive a $50,000 grant from the Benevolent Fund, which will be used to expand a partnership with the BPL to provide STEM-based robotics programming at three BPL branches within walking distance of Phillips Academy, Woodlawn and Ramsay high schools.

With the grant, Teens Engineer will be able to provide after-school programs for students at the BPL’s Central, Southside and Woodlawn libraries during the 2016-2017 school year.

The Community Impact Grant enables UAB employees to make a real and measurable difference to a challenging community issue. The grant is awarded to one nonprofit or a coalition of nonprofits submitting a proposal that results in a deep and direct impact in one of three areas: education, health or economic security. The first UAB Community Impact Grant was awarded to Magic City Harvest in December 2014.

“We are very excited to receive these funds, which will help us introduce engineering fundamentals to more students in the Birmingham community,” said Abidin Yildirim, Ph.D., outreach director for the School of Engineering and STEM instructor for Teens Engineer Birmingham. “There are opportunities in engineering and other STEM disciplines where these students may excel, and through this grant, we will be able to provide leadership and support to help guide them to those opportunities. We appreciate everyone who voted and gave their support to this project.”

The project was chosen from among three finalists for the Community Impact Grant, and was voted on by UAB employees.

About 1,500 UAB employees cast their vote for the recipient agency after viewing video presentations from the three finalists.

“Our employees had an incredibly challenging decision to make in selecting just one of the proposals to be funded. Ultimately, investing in our future through an educational program that channels youth interest in technology into a collaborative learning experience and prepares the next generation of college students with 21st century job skills proved to be what UAB employees wanted for our community,” said Lisa Higginbotham, program manager for the UAB Benevolent Fund. “We are enthusiastic about investing in STEM education for teens through the partnership with the Birmingham Public Library. The collaboration of UAB’s School of Engineering students as mentors to these young people is a key component of the program that we believe UAB employees appreciated.”

“Teens in Birmingham often fall behind their peers in opportunities to learn 21st century skills that would increase college acceptance rates and prepare them for the workforce,” Yildirim said.

“Teens Engineer Birmingham participants have the opportunity to acquire and demonstrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills they would not otherwise have, and UAB student mentors will ensure that the teens have the support and knowledge needed for success as future college students and career leaders.”

There will be a ceremonial presentation of the award in late February during a UAB Blazers basketball game at Bartow Arena.

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