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The Construction Engineering Management (CEM) track of study welcomed a record 54 new students to the graduate track of study. However, due to hurricane Harvey making landfall in the Gulf of Mexico, only about 42 students were able to attend the August 25-26 boot camp. Students came from as far as California and Washington State for the two day event.

""Fall 2017 CEM boot camp attendees.

New students are admitted to the CEM track of study during the spring and fall terms. This orientation event marks the official start of a track of study in which students will take courses fully online over the next 19 months to earn a Masters of Engineering (MEng) degree through the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE).

This is the 19th boot camp hosted by CEM since CCEE and Assistant Director Dianne Gilmer implemented the online track of study in 2009. Since then, the track of study has continued to grow and has gained national recognition by U.S. News and World Report for excellence in online engineering education, and by the Affordable Colleges Online for affordability in online engineering education.

“It is an honor to educate and serve the CEM students. We strive to create an engaged learning community that fosters a spirit of connection and support. The fall 2017 cohort was extremely engaged at boot camp. The new cohort is one of the most dynamic and diverse groups we have welcomed to campus. The face-to-face visit gives the CEM faculty and staff a chance to show our students southern hospitability and welcome them to the UAB Family. We all leave the weekend tremendously energized” said Gilmer.

The two-day orientation is a time for students to visit the UAB campus and meet their fellow classmates, the CEM faculty, and staff. The day began with a live welcome message from Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Engineering, and Fouad Fouad, Ph.D., Chair of the School of Engineering and Interim CEM Director. Each of these leaders provided words of encouragement and challenged the new graduate students to work hard to achieve the highest academic success possible.

""Iwan Alexander, Dean of the School of Engineering.Afterwards, students received live course lectures from several CEM faculty members, as Christopher Waldron, Ph.D., Jason Kirby, Ph.D., and Gilmer began discussing the course material associated with the first few classes. In addition, Fran Lefort and Allen Murphree provided hands-on training regarding the online technology of assignment submission, Canvas navigation, and weekly course content. Around mid-day, students and the CEM staff socialized with each other while sharing a delicious meal. During the afternoon, students worked in groups and completed several tasks as they received professional public speaking training from Pat O’Mara, as they prepared for several individual course presentations.

The boot camp experience is informative and covers topics required for students to be successful. It is recorded and archived for those students who could not attend and for students' future reference. The on-campus orientation is a powerful event and was well received, as noted by incoming graduate student J. Boone: “WOW is the best compliment I can give you (Gilmer) and your team. Thank you for your efforts leading the boot camp.”

Every cohort of students are unique and diverse in backgrounds and physical work locations. The fall 2017 incoming cohort represents 18 different states, a geographic distribution that Gilmer says reflects the reputation and success of the track of study.

“Every year, I am amazed at the unique character and talent of each new group of students. Since the track of study’s inception, we have graduated 405 students, and our current enrollment this fall is 149 students. We offer relevant, real world material that students tell us they implement in their places of employment on a regular basis. Graduates share testimonials about how they benefited their companies with techniques, concepts, and procedures learned from the CEM courses. The CEM network is vast and becomes more expansive with each new cohort. The CEM faculty and staff believe in excellence in education, continuous improvement of course material, and constant attention to our students and their academic success.”