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The Construction Engineering Management (CEM) program received a total of 38 new master’s students during the January 7 and 8, 2022 graduate orientation. This was an excellent opportunity for the incoming academics to meet the CEM faculty, staff, and their new classmates, in a safe and healthy virtual setting.

The Boot Camp experience marks the official start of a track of study in which students will take five semesters of fully online graduate courses to earn a Master of Engineering (MEng) degree with a concentration in CEM. The 19-month degree is offered through the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) and the incoming cohort of working professionals who attended the spring 2022 event are pictured above. There is a small percentage of students that opt to fast-track, and they complete their plan of study in 12 months.

This is the 28th formal Boot Camp hosted by CEM since its inception as an online program in 2009. Since then, CEM has continued to flourish with over 196 active students and 698 alumni. In addition, CEM and the School of Engineering (SoE) have received several prestigious recognitions over the years:

  • US News and World Report - Excellence in online engineering education.
  • Online College Rankings Consensus – Best online construction engineering management concentration within a Master of Engineering Program.
  • Online Masters - One of the best online master’s in construction management.
  • Affordable Colleges Online – Outstanding affordability in online engineering education.

During day one, everyone at orientation had a chance to learn something significant about each other, as students introduced themselves, stated where they are from or currently located, discussed their current area of employment, and gave three words that described who they are as a person. This beneficial exercise allows students to immediately connect with their peers, encourages academic collaboration during the entire program, and promotes business networking opportunities. Some of the student’s introductions are pictured below.

Screenshot from the 2022 Boot Camp.

Students were later asked a question to learn more about the cohort. The polling software captured the student’s anonymous responses from their devices, and below are some of their responses to the question "What motivates you to pursue a graduate education?"

  • “Career advancement”
  • “Professional growth and advancement”
  • “Self-improvement”
  • “To become more well-rounded”
  • “Security”
  • “Access to current best practices”
  • “Upward mobility”
  • “Knowledge to run the family business”
  • “To become self-employed”
  • “Career development”

To help meet these goals, Boot Camp is structured to give the diverse group of professionals, located throughout the U.S and abroad, a chance to learn about; UAB policies, time management skills, the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS), how course content is delivered and received, computer and software requirements, proper communication methods, and online proctored examination procedures. Polling shows that 95% of the cohort is currently employed, so giving them the tools to balance graduate school, work, and family is huge in meeting their overall goals.

The CEM team also provided students with a handbook that contains the same information covered during Boot Camp and some additional university resources to help ensure their CEM success. This information will be a great reference manual for each student during their entire UAB academic journey.

Students began day two presenting their live “icebreaker” presentations, which is just one of many public speeches required during the CEM curriculum. Polling software shows that 72% of students work in the area of construction and project management, 6% work as general or subcontractors, 11% worked in engineering, and another 11% work in education facilities management. The engineering and construction industry relies heavily on, outstanding oral, and daily communication skills, so this a very beneficial exercise to help eliminate nervousness and learn how to provide a meaningful message.

Overall, the live virtual presentations were very interesting, and students correctly implemented the ten essential public speaking techniques learned during day one.

The class was asked another question and the polling software recorded some of their responses to other questions.

"What did you like most about attending the UAB virtual Boot Camp?"

  • “I enjoyed the professor’s participation in Bootcamp and the thorough coverage of course materials”
  • “Instructions to navigate Canvas”
  • “Information to be successful”
  • “Receiving an informative introduction to this program”
  • “Getting to meet all of my peers in this program”
  • “The diversity of the class and the motivation”
  • “The supportive nature of the UAB staff”
  • “How much everyone has in common”
  • "Hearing everyone’s icebreakers”
  • “The personal stories and experiences”.

"How would you rate your experience at the CEM Boot Camp?"

  • 96% of the students attending said excellent or good.

"How would you rate the content of the materials provided?"

  • 100% of the cohort said excellent.

It is obvious that orientation is perceived as a beneficial event and it provided the relevant information needed for this diverse group of students, ranging in age from 24 through 54, to successfully hit the ground running once classes begin. In the past, CEM noticed that students who attend Boot Camp usually perform better than those who choose to only watch the recorded archive. Therefore, CEM faculty and staff were very pleased with the large turnout and participation from these engaged future graduates.