Earlier this month, UAB Engineering alumni Blair Farley and Ahmed Elhattab, Ph.D., were honored with UAB Young Alumni Rising Star Awards. The two engineers were among five people picked for the 2019 class.

The Young Alumni Rising Star Awards were designed to honor five young alumni who demonstrate an ability to excel personally and professionally while committing time and energy in service to the university and their communities. The awards were conceived by the National Alumni Society’s Junior Board, which is a body of UAB alumni ages 35 and under who advise the NAS.

“When you consider the thousands of successful graduates UAB has produced in recent years, it is a strong testament to the character of these two engineers that they have earned this distinction,” said Timothy Wick, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Engineering. “All of our faculty, staff and alumni should take pride in the fact that two of our graduates are included in this year’s Rising Star class.”

2019 elhattabIn an awards ceremony at the UAB Alumni House, both recipients took a few minutes to speak about what their UAB experience meant to them and how it helped them find success early in their respective careers.

Ahmed Elhattab, Ph.D., P.E., earned a Master of Science in 2015 and a Ph.D. in 2018, both from the UAB Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. He currently works for Southern Company Services as a structural engineer with a wide range of expertise, including concrete and steel structures, seismic analysis, dynamics of structures, soil mechanics, and much more.

“I could not find the proper words to really express what UAB means to me,” said Elhattab. “For me, UAB means knowledge. Here I have learned how to think, how to critically crack problems and think out of the box.”

Elhattab went on to recount a personal story of how CCEE Professor Nasim Uddin, Ph.D., challenged him to expand his knowledge to tackle a wide-ranging project. But he added that his time at UAB was about much more than just engineering training. “UAB for me also means the place where my wife and I were gifted by our three beautiful boys,” he said, “all of whom were born in UAB Hospital.”

2019 farleyBlair Farley earned her undergraduate degree in 2011 and her Master of Science in 2018. Both degrees were in mechanical engineering. Today, she is a research engineer in Southern Company Research & Development, managing indoor agriculture research portfolios. Prior to that, she helped lead Southern Company's research into electric and alternative transportation.

Even though Farley credits experiences at the School of Engineering for preparing her for her career, she says she was initially drawn to UAB in part because of an opportunity it presented far, far from Birmingham. “I chose UAB primarily because of the Study Away program and the Science and Technology Honors Program,” she said. “UAB was one of only three schools at the time that had the particular Study Away program that I participated in. It was a very meaningful experience, and I still keep in touch with people I met there.”

Farley studied automotive engineering in Esslingen, Germany. While at UAB, she worked on the Baja team and worked in the Enabling Technology Laboratory, which was then housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Those experiences helped prepare me for a career in research, and for my first seven years at Southern Company, I was a research engineer for electric transportation. Now I work in indoor agriculture—a field I was first introduced to through a friend while I was in Germany. I know that everyone’s experience is different and your UAB experience is as good as what you make of it, but I can say that my opportunities have come directly from my experiences at UAB.”

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