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The Construction Engineering Management (CEM) track of study welcomed 39 new students to the graduate track of study. However, due to a blast of Canadian air that blanketed much of the east coast with ice, snow, and artic temperatures, only about 24 students were able to attend the January 5 and 6 boot camp. Students came from as far as Oregon, California, and Washington State for the two day event.

""Spring 2018 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 20th CEM boot camp since CCEE and CEM Assistant Director Dianne Gilmer implemented the online track of study in 2009. Since then, CEM 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.

The two-day orientation is a time for students to visit the UAB campus and meet their fellow classmates, the CEM faculty, and staff. During the morning, students received live course lectures from several 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 noon, students and the CEM staff socialized with each other while having lunch. Afterwards, students worked in groups and completed several tasks as they received professional public speaking training from Pat O’Mara. The training prepares students for their live “Icebreaker” presentation given on day two, which is one of many public speeches required during the track of study.

Overall, the boot camp experience is informative and covers educational topics required for students to be successful. It is recorded and archived for those students who could not attend and for students' future reference. Every cohort of students are unique and diverse in backgrounds and physical work locations. The spring 2018 incoming cohort represented 15 different states and three foreign countries, a geographic distribution that reflects CEM's reputation and 10 years of success.

""Dianne Gilmer, assistant director. According to Gilmer, “Each group of students has a personality and distinction all its own. Since the track of study’s inception, we have graduated 437 students, and our current total enrollment as of this spring is 162 students. The boot camp experience demonstrates to all of us how powerful a live meeting is before embarking on a 19-month educational journey that delivers relevant, real world content. It is a very pertinent and intense two day immersion for the incoming students.

"For the CEM faculty and staff, boot camp is our favorite time of the year. It is a real honor to host the students on campus and show them southern hospitality. There is a great deal of interaction between the students and faculty while on campus. The students are welcomed to the UAB family and a very strong bond to their instructors and peers develops. It is always amazing to see the diverse backgrounds of the cohort; yet the common goal brings us together and unites us. We strive to create an engaged learning community and boot camp is the foundation for building this community.”

Fouad Fouad, PhD, P.E., the CEM Interim Director and Chair of the School of Engineering says, “I am very proud of our CEM track of study and all its accomplishments; it has certainly been our star online track of study since its inception. The dedicated efforts of Dianne and the track of study faculty have come to fruition as evidenced by the track of study’s reputation and sustained success.”

Fouad adds “We launched the CEM track in 2008 on campus and moved to online instruction in 2009. CEM's reputation has grown steadily over the years, and as a result of that success, we started two additional track of studys in 2015—Structural Engineering and Sustainable Smart Cities. Both are poised to serve the unique needs of professionals in those respective fields.”

The CEM leadership, faculty, and staff believe in excellence in education, continuous improvement of the course material, and constant attention to our students and their academic achievements.