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Edwin Cueva, a graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering, recently became the first recipient of the Dr. Martha Bidez Endowed Scholarship in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management (ASEM).

 Edwin de la Cueva 250Cueva, an Environmental Health and Safety Manager, is in his second year with ASEM, which is a concentration within the Master of Engineering degree program. He received the inaugural scholarship for his outstanding contributions to the environmental health and safety engineering field during his enrollment at UAB.

“It was my pleasure to present Edwin with the scholarship,” said ASEM Director Donald Burke, Ph.D.,. “The scholarship review committee stated that his accomplishments as a student and his professional leadership in his field made him standout for the award. Having known Martha well, I believe Edwin’s initiative and effort is a true reflection of what this scholarship aims to represent.”

  • Criteria for recipients include:
  • current enrollment in ASEM;
  • academic achievement;
  • at least six credit hours in ASEM earning at least a 3.0 GPA;
  • and leadership in the safety field.

Applicants were required to describe in a personal essay their accomplishments, career aspirations, and outstanding achievements through their individual work initiative, positions in professional societies and other leadership roles that advance the field of safety engineering.

As the Environmental Health and Safety Manager for ESP Associates Inc in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cueva currently leads a safety team, which includes three safety coordinators and two safety technicians. Together they conduct worksite inspections, perform air and water testing, instruct OSHA related safety classes, and train employees on safe machine operations.

Cueva has also participated in multiple health and safety professional programs where he became certified as: an OSHA-500 Authorized Bilingual Trainer; an American Red Cross Bilingual Instructor; and a CSX/Norfolk Southern Trainer.

“These certification accomplishments have given me the opportunity to provide companies and their employees with distinct safety information, helping them learn different safety tactics, along with keeping them compliant.”

Additionally, Cueva participates in his local community chapters of the National Safety Council, Associated Builders and Contractors Carolinas, and the Union County Chamber of Commerce.

Furthermore, Cueva’s deep passion for safety and proud Latino heritage led him in 2017 to create the Carolinas Safety Group Inc. During his enrollment at UAB, Cueva utilized his Spanish-speaking skills and safety knowledge, dedicating his time after work and weekends to growing his company which aids general industry and construction clients in his area.

I have dedicated my career to pushing the health and safety initiative, especially within the Latino population and blue-collared workers,” said Cueva. “My education placed me in a mindset of serving others to help them work safely and return them home without complications. Whether it has been educating employees on the importance of wearing a Hi-Vis Class II vest on a jobsite or explaining the dangers of electrical currents, safety has become a day-to-day activity in my daily living.”

According to Cueva, receiving the scholarship helped increase his chances to graduate sooner than he anticipated.

“It is encouraging, not only as a graduate student but also a Latino professional, to receive recognition for dedication and sacrifice, something I believe Dr. Bidez focused much of her Engineering work and research on,” said Cueva. “Like her, I would like to leave a mark in the field of Safety Engineering and this award gives me the motivation to believe that support exists from entities like UAB.”

In a career that spanned more than 35 years, 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.

“Much like Martha pioneered the ASEM program here at UAB back in 2009, many of our students may also lead their own safety programs within their companies and institutions,” said Burke. “I like to think that her legacy will live on through their work in safety engineering for years to come.”

The Master of Engineering with a concentration in ASEM is the first master’s degree in engineering with a safety emphasis offered totally online. By teaching students both the language of engineering as well as safety concepts, graduates are able to bridge the divide between design engineers and occupational safety and health professionals.