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Youth Champions Program


The Sustainable Smart Cities Youth Champions program provides inner-city youth with hands-on learning opportunities. By teaching the importance and benefits of protecting the environment, at an early age, we are helping nurture a more responsible adult and a better community.

Through the Sustainable Cities Youth Champions program, children are exposed to new fields of knowledge as well as future career opportunities in the emerging Science of Cities.

The program consists of four visits to UAB scheduled on Saturdays. Each Saturday, one of the following topics within sustainability will be addressed:

  • Sustainable Transportation and Energy Conservation
  • Environmental Quality
  • Field Trip
  • Health and Livability of Cities

These principles will be discussed both in the big picture as well as how the students can practice them in the home and everyday life. Hands on laboratory experiences will be emphasized.

For more information on the program, download the Youth Champions brochure.

NSF IRES – NSF International Research Experience for Students

Many of the world's most pressing science and engineering challenges are trans-national in nature and many of the leading scientific and engineering resources are located outside the United States. In order to remain at the forefront of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the United States needs to nurture a globally-engaged STEM workforce capable of performing research in an international environment.

Through this NSF-IRES program, our institution was awarded a 3-year-grant to develop an international research experience focused on the theme of Sustainable Green Building Design and Construction. This theme was selected for several reasons:

  • There is a growing emphasis on energy efficiency and the protection of natural resources in the building industry;
  • In many developing countries, such as Egypt, there is an acute need for affordable yet resource-efficient housing;
  • Our university and the international partners have collaborated on research in this area in the past and have jointly held two International Workshops directly related to this theme.

The main international host for each of the three summers (2015, 2016 and 2017) has been the Housing and Building National Research Center in Cairo (HBRC). HBRC is an independent government research center performing a leading role in enhancing the performance of the building, housing and urban development sector in both the local and regional context.

Other international Hosts:

  • Summer 2015: The host in The Netherlands was composed of several environmental related companies.
  • Summer 2016: During the students stay in the UK the host was our partner institution Staffordshire University
  • Summer 2017: In Germany, OTH Institute-Weiden was the main host together with Europoles

For more information on the program, download the NSF IRES poster and view pictures and video of the event.

NCTSPM Summer Enrichment Program

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham NCTSPM Summer Enrichment Program is a four-week educational development program designed to give additional training and professional exposure to college freshmen or incoming freshmen students enrolled in Alabama’s historically black colleges who have an interest in careers related to engineering and transportation.

The program is put on by UAB in partnership with Alabama’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center, and sponsored by the National Center for Transportation System Productivity and Management (NCTSPM). The program was modeled after a similar program led by the UAB Minority Health & Health Equity Research Center (MHERC), a comprehensive educational, research, and community outreach center focused on eliminating the health disparities of racial and ethnic minorities. The purpose of the NCTSPM Summer Enrichment Program is to increase the number of well-trained minority researchers and engineers working on transportation-related issues.

This was the fourth year that UAB has offered the NCTSPM Summer Enrichment Program. Dr. Robert Peters, UAB Professor of Environmental Engineering, directed this year’s program, which had seven student participants. Participants heard from experts in topics related to civil engineering and transportation, learned about engineering career options, took classes in scientific writing, worked on research projects under the leadership of a faculty mentor, and developed a comprehensive career roadmap to achieve their future goals. Classes and lectures were held in UAB’s Hoehn Engineering Building (1075 13th St. S.), Ryals School of Public Health (1665 University Boulevard), Hill University Center (1400 University Boulevard), and Camp Hall (1500 10th Ave. S.). Funding provided through a grant from the NCTSPM paid for four weeks of room and board, curriculum and material costs, and a $250 weekly salary per student participant to offset time away from summer jobs.


  • Courses
    • Career Roadmaps
      Helped prepare students on expectations as a college student. Students created individualized roadmaps of requirements to obtain a college degree in engineering and to find a job after college.
    • Cultural Competency
      Covered health and engineering issues in the United States as well as in other countries. Students completed reports on transportation engineering issues facing a foreign country of their choice.
    • Scientific Writing
      Discussed the process of writing in a scientific manner. Students learned and practiced how to write scientific school reports and abstracts.
  • Lectures
    • Environmental Engineering Laboratory Research – Richard Hawkins, UAB Civil Engineering Laboratory Supervisor
    • Environmental Engineering – Jason Kirby, UAB Professor of Civil Engineering
    • Library Resources – Craig Beard, UAB Reference Librarian for Engineering
    • UAB Energy Conservation – Matt Winslett, UAB Facilities Management Engineer
    • Urban Food Deserts – Gail Wallace, John Hopkins University Research Fellow
    • Use of GIS for Identifying Food Deserts and Storm Drains – Ashlyn Manzella, UAB Engineer
    • Food Nutrition – Sharyn Gaston, Juice Plus Nutritionist
    • Engineering Ethics – led by Richard Hawkins, UAB Civil Engineering Laboratory Supervisor
    • Stormwater Management and Storm Drains – David Hagan, Director of UAB Environmental Management Program, and Direcus Cooper, Water Pollution Control Technician for the City of Birmingham
    • Transportation Engineering – Andrew Sullivan, UAB Instructor of Civil Engineering
    • Structural Engineering – Christopher Waldron, UAB Professor of Civil Engineering
  • Site Visits
    • UAB School of Public Health
    • Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama – led by Rip Weaver, Executive Director
    • UAB Women and Infants Center (WIC) / Neonatal Floor of Children’s Hospital
  • Laboratory Work

    Under the direction of Dr. Robert Peters, students conducted investigative research on stormwater quality in Birmingham, Alabama. Students met with David Hagan, the director of UAB’s Environmental Management Program, and Direcus Cooper, a technician for the City of Birmingham’s Water Pollution Control, to learn about the importance and process of stormwater management. Students then took samples of stormwater from storm drains in Birmingham and tested the samples in UAB’s environmental engineering laboratory for conductivity, turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and other water quality levels. Using the results of their laboratory work, students analyzed the quality of stormwater in Birmingham, following which they brainstormed methods for improving the quality of Birmingham’s stormwater and its management.

  • Final Presentations

    Students created posters displaying their career roadmaps, which they presented at the Summer Enrichment Program Awards and Promotion Ceremony on the concluding day of the four-week program. The posters were exhibited on easels in a poster gallery, and ceremony guests could walk throughout the gallery and ask students about their future aspirations as well as their experience in the enrichment program. Students then gave 2- to 3-minute individual speeches on their career roadmaps and their summer enrichment program experience in front of the 50+ guests attending the ceremony. Through the process of making and presenting their career roadmaps posters, students further developed skills in information synthesis, personal engagement, and public speaking.

    For more information on the program, download the 2016 Summer Enrichment Report.

For more information on the program, download the 2016 Enrichment Program poster.