UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Courses and Programs
Engineering an Entrepreneurial Future
By Cary Estes
IEM director Dale Callahan says the program enables clients by giving them the skills and confidence to pursue new business goals.
The problem with the corporate ladder is that there’s only one way up. Many creative professionals in technical fields view the climb as a fast track to frustration, with limited options to break out and take charge of their careers.
Since 2000, many of these workers have found freedom in UAB’s Information Engineering and Management (IEM) program. The program offers a master’s degree in engineering, but participants, known in the program as clients, say it feels more like an M.B.A. in technology, offering them the business knowledge and skills, and confidence, they need to venture out on their own.
“We take experienced professionals who feel unfulfilled and ask them where they want to go,” says IEM director Dale Callahan, Ph.D. “That question hits a nerve, because a lot of people don’t have an answer. They’re just following the process, and nowhere along the line has anybody asked, ‘What do you really want to do?’”
The IEM curriculum covers project management, marketing and business strategy, software engineering principles, and information security, among other topics. But it also offers valuable lessons in entrepreneurship, public speaking, and presentation skills, along with personal mentoring from faculty as clients develop their own business ventures. “We’ve become almost a coaching program,” Callahan says. “We broaden clients’ experience with what’s going on in the industry. But we also help them to define their goals and reach them. Most of them don’t know what they want. They just know they want something different.”
Linking Students to Opportunities in Asia
By Andrew Hayenga
In any business venture, it helps to have friends in the right places. For UAB students eager to explore the booming economic possibilities in China, one name opens many doors: K.C. Pang.
A veteran of the international business scene, Pang has held executive positions with the World Development Federation, FedEx, and Holiday Inn. He has been a faculty member in the UAB School of Business since 2003, teaching courses in international business and international marketing, and serving as Director of China Initiatives for the school and advisor for the university’s International Business Association.
Any discussion of global commerce must focus heavily on China, Pang says. The country’s international business impact grows each year and now “accounts for more than $1 billion in annual trade with the state of Alabama alone,” he notes. “If business graduates are going to get ahead in Alabama or anywhere, they need to be exposed to the Chinese economy.”
Students Unravel a Recent Discovery
In early November, Discovery News published a story in which two Italian archaeologists—brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni—claimed to have found the remains of the lost army of Cambyses, son of Persian emperor Cyrus the Great, in Egypt.
The Greek historian Herodotus recounts the tale of Cambyses’ lost army in his Histories, writing that Cambyses sent an army of 50,000 soldiers to burn the oracle of Zeus. The army was said to have reached the city of Oasis when a great sandstorm buried the men, and the army was never heard from again. While most archaeologists dismiss the tale as folklore, some people have searched the Egyptian deserts for archaeological evidence to corroborate Herodotus’s description.
With skeptical eyes, the Mythbusters students investigated Cambyses, the Italian archaeologists, and the archaeological methodology. The research revealed poor documentation and cast doubt on the credentials of the archaeologists who claimed to make the discovery. The class wrote and submitted an op-ed piece to the Washington Post on their findings.
UAB Students Expose Archaeological Myths
By Jennifer Ghandhi
Sarah Parcak says debunking myths can be crucial to educating students about archaeology.
The ancient Maya have been busted. So have King Tut and the entire population of Atlantis. For that you can thank students in a UAB “Mythbusters” honors seminar led by archaeologist Sarah Parcak, Ph.D. Last fall, they went hunting for the facts behind popular archaeological myths, debunking everything from cursed Egyptian tombs to cities lost beneath the sea.
“I always wanted to take a class like this as an undergraduate, and I’ve been wanting to teach it for a long time,” says Parcak, who hopes to make the course available as a 200-level offering by spring 2011. While most academic archaeologists avoid discussing untruths in the classroom, Parcak believes it is crucial to educate students and the public about what she calls “pseudoarchaeology.” Students investigate hoaxes to identify their origins and the reasons why the myths are so believable and pervasive in modern culture.
Preparing Teachers for the Challenges of Urban Education
By Claire L. Burgess
Donna Jones, a recent graduate of UAB's Urban Teacher Enhancement Program, at Birmingham's Robinson Elementary School
In many urban schools, the biggest dropout risk is at the head of the class. Faced with crowded classrooms, inadequate funding, and a host of other challenges, teachers in these schools are often tempted to quit the profession entirely or transfer to a suburban school at the first opportunity. According to 2005 data from the Alabama Department of Education, approximately 25 percent of new teachers in high-poverty school districts in the Birmingham area leave their positions within their first three years.
Deborah Voltz, Ed.D., knows what those teachers are going through. She taught at a high-needs elementary school in Birmingham for five years before joining the UAB School of Education. But she also is convinced that helping urban students take their first steps to a better life is one of the most rewarding roles any teacher can play. “I feel like I was able to make a real difference, and that was important to me,” Voltz says. “Yes, there were challenges. But there would be challenges anywhere.”