Construction Engineering Management (CEM) welcomed 59 new graduate students this fall, the largest cohort to date. Attendees came from as far as California, Colorado, New Jersey and New York for the two day event. CEM admits during the spring and fall terms and currently has 143 active graduate candidates.

Orientation marks the official start of a track of study in which collegians will take courses completely online over the next 19 months to earn a Masters of Engineering (MEng) degree through the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE).

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The incoming cohort of CEM students who attended the fall 2018 event is shown in the picture. Overall, this is the twenty-first Boot Camp hosted by CEM since the CCEE Department Chair, Fouad Fouad, Ph.D., and CEM Assistant Director, Dianne Gilmer, implemented the online program in 2009. Since then, CEM has continued to thrive with over 496 alumni, and has received national recognition by U.S. News and World Reports for excellence in online engineering education, and by the Affordable Colleges Online for affordability in online engineering education.

Fouad, the CEM Interim Director and Chair of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, where the program has been established said, “I am very proud of our CEM program and all its accomplishments; it has certainly been our star online program since its inception. The dedicated efforts of Dianne and the program faculty and staff have come to fruition as evidenced by the program’s reputation, growth, and sustained success.”

""Dr. Fouad Fouad, interim director. “We launched the CEM track in 2008 on campus and moved to online instruction in 2009. The CEM reputation has grown steadily since then, and as a result of that success, we created two additional online master’s programs in 2016— Structural Engineering and Sustainable Smart Cities. Both are poised to serve the unique needs of professionals in those respective fields. The collaborations among the three programs have been phenomenal and a great example of leveraging of resources,” Fouad added.

Boot Camp was a time for students to visit the UAB campus, meet their fellow classmates, the CEM faculty, and staff. During the morning, students received live course lectures from several CEM faculty members, as Waldron, Kirby 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, weekly course content and computer software readiness.

Around Midday, students and the CEM staff socialized with each other while having lunch. Afterwards, Autumn Tooms Cyprès, Ph.D., the Dean of the School of Education, and J. Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., the Dean of the School of Engineering, made a visit. Alexander addressed the new graduate students and talked about planning, scheduling and management of big construction projects and his admiration of people who want to better learn this skill.

The Dean also recognized the student commitment, saying “I also appreciate that most of you are working full time jobs, you have families, and you are taking time out to improve your knowledge to earn this degree, it’s great, and we need you to do that. Welcome to UAB and I will see you at graduation.”

During the afternoon, students worked in groups and completed several tasks, as they received professional public speaking training from Pat O’Mara. The training prepares graduates for their live “Icebreaker” presentation given on day two, which is one of many public speeches required during the curriculum.

Overall, the Boot Camp experience is very informative and covers many educational topics required for students to be successful. It is recorded and archived for those students who could not attend and for student’s future reference. Every cohort are unique and diverse in backgrounds and physical work locations. Since its inception, CEM is represented by students from 42 different states and 17 foreign countries, a geographic distribution that reflects the reputation and 10-year success in engineering education.

According to Gilmer, “Boot Camp is as exciting for the CEM faculty and staff as it is for the students! Being able to welcome them to the UAB Family in person really makes the CEM track of study a special experience for our students. We try to show them the royal treatment when they are on campus. The fall cohort is the largest group in CEM’s history. It always amazes me to see the diverse backgrounds of the students, and yet they share the common goal of earning a Master of Engineering degree at UAB. For me personally, it is a great honor working with the CEM students through their educational journey and seeing how earning this Master of Engineering Degree often advances their career opportunities and increases their salary.

The CEM leadership, faculty, and staff believe in the power of higher education, the benefits of implementing real world course content, and providing students with the resources to be academically successful.

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