Category: News

UA Engineering Students Without Borders Repairs Plumbing, Ballfield in Hale County, Conducts Environmental Project in Peru

June 2007

How many times have you used water today? Water is, of course, an integral aspect of life and is necessary to complete many daily tasks like bathing, brushing your teeth and washing your hands. Now, imagine being billed hundreds of dollars for water you never received because of faulty pipes or leaks in your home.

Some Hale County residents have faced this nightmare, which is why UA's Engineering Students Without Borders has put its expertise to use by restoring the residents' plumbing

Engineers Students Without Borders has partnered with HERO Housing Resource Center, an organization aimed at reducing substandard housing conditions in Hale County, to improve residential plumbing in the area.

It is estimated that 40 percent of water sent to customers from the Hale County Water Department is lost because of bad piping and a decrease in water pressure. The water department asked HERO, who, in turn, asked Engineering Students Without Borders for its help.

Josh Hamilton, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering and the student project leader for ESWB, said some residents of Hale County are paying for water they do not receive because of problems in the piping. He explained that when some residents' pipes leak, they cannot afford to pay someone to repair the pipe, causing the problem to worsen.

"We are working with HERO and the Hale County Water Department to make it so that these families, whether they are elderly, single parents or simply on a fixed income, can receive water that is affordable," said Hamilton. "One of the residents we worked with was billed $800 for water, and was unable to pay the bill. That's where we come in."

"Not only are we helping the community," said Hamilton, "but the students who participate in these projects are getting hands-on engineering experience, which is something you cannot learn in a classroom or from a textbook."

Bonita Benner, project coordinator for HERO, said ESWB has fixed plumbing at seven homes.

ESWB also has partnered with the Black Belt Action Commission to restore Curtis Smith Field, a run-down baseball field in Greensboro, restoring the baseball field in an effort to increase interest in the sport in the Black Belt community. Members of the Black Belt Action Commission sought ESWB's assistance after recognizing the need for improved recreational areas for their youth.

"Baseball used to be a big deal in the Black Belt," said Dr. Philip Johnson, adviser for ESWB. "Kids used to play the game, but it has died out, and there is no longer a little league team in Hale County, which is why we are sending students there to help."

Drs. Philip and Pauline Johnson received an award from CCBP in April, the Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort Award for their ESWB work. Both are associate professors of civil, construction and environmental engineering.

Also, UA's Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility presented Dr. Pauline Johnson with an Innovative Service Learning Faculty Award, and the Community Service Center recognized ESWB's work by giving the organization its Caritas Award.

Engineers Students Without Borders traveled to Peru in May as part of UA's interim class. Students in ESWB spent two weeks in Iquitos, Peru, working on community water and ecotourism projects.

UA Students Bring Farmers Market to Campus

May 3, 2006

Homegrown Alabama, a student-led group that educates the community about the value and importance of local produce, sponsored an open-air market at Ferguson Center Plaza on The University of Alabama campus Thursday, May 3.

Farmers from Tuscaloosa, Northport, Duncanville, Coker, Fayette, Thorsby, Clanton and elsewhere displayed racks of fresh tomatoes, turnips, onions, new potatoes, English peas and collards, as well as eggs, cheese, pastries and jars of home-prepared honey, jams and jellies.

"This event promotes home-grown as best for nutrition, best for the local economy, and best for personal health," said chief organizer of the event Max Young, a senior food and nutrition major from New Orleans.

Young and other students are enrolled in Nutrition and Hospitality Management 490, an independent study course. About a dozen students worked for several months to bring the event to the campus, giving many local farmers a chance to showcase their products.

The event featured Tres Jackson, chef and owner of Tuscaloosa's Epiphany Restaurant. Guests sampled Jackson's dishes made from the produce at the market.

Partners were the UA Office of Community Affairs, Ferguson Center, Bama Dining and the Alabama Farmers Market Authority (

Homegrown Alabama, formed in 2005, has student members from varying academic majors in the UA College of Human Environmental Sciences. The faculty adviser is Mildred Switzer, UA instructor of human nutrition and hospitality management.

CCBP Honors Campus and Community Partners

April 27, 2007

The Center for Community-Based Partnerships honored nine of its most successful projects and their leaders at its first awards program Friday, April 27, at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Tuscaloosa. More than 250 university and community leaders attended the ceremony.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Arthur N. Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach and associate provost at the University of Georgia and a three-time graduate and former faculty member at The University of Alabama. Dunning also received the first award of the day, a Distinguished Achievement Award for his national leadership in community-partnered research and service.

Dunning urged academic scholars to convert their research and instruction in ways that can be used by ordinary people. The people of Alabama's Black Belt may not ever be interested in your basic research, he said, "but if you can translate that research into something that makes an impact, it will be recognized.”

Receiving awards for projects initiated by students were:

"¢ Amanda Brozana, for The West End Journal and WestEndJournal.Com, a newspaper and website that cover western Tuscaloosa around Stillman College, where Brozana, a UA doctoral student, is an instructor.

"¢ Stephany Collins, a senior photojournalism major, for her work with Creative Campus to integrate the arts into local school curricula.

"¢ Students in the School of Social Work for P.A.S.S. (Preparing Alabama Students for Success) "“ Jacauel Lakesha Lee, Stephanie Workman, Jacquelyn Johnson, Kathleen McNamara, Paulette Martin, R. Taylor Putnam, Rita Smith, William Thompson, Krista VanDerwood, Debra Watkins. They mentor and instruct Black Belt area students on college-bound goals, helping them to see themselves as future college students

For projects by faculty and staff:

"¢ Dr. Carmen Taylor, assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences, for SMILE (Science and Math Involved Learning Experience), which engages students in learning and enjoying math and science.

"¢ Dr. Pauline Johnson and Dr. Phillip Johnson, associate professors in the College of Engineering, for community projects at home and abroad through Engineering Students Without Borders.

"¢ Dr. Heather Pleasants, assistant professor, College of Education, for Our Voices, which enables black middle school students to tell their stories in new forms of media.

For projects by community partners:

"¢ Carol Eichelberger and Jean Mills, for Tuscaloosa Community-Supported Agriculture through New 226 Organic Farming, a course open to community and campus members through New College.

"¢ Dr. Alesa Judd of Centreville, for Bibb County Child Caring Project through Bibb County Public Schools.

"¢ Mayor Walt Maddox, Shelly Jones, Earnestine Tucker, Stephen Black, for Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative. the city's pre-kindergarten initiative.

Distinguished Achievement Awards, for sustained, distinguished and superb achievement in public service and outreach went to:

"¢ Dr. Jim Hall, director, New College, campus

"¢ Felecia Jones, executive director, Black Belt Community Foundation in Selma. Ms. Jones' was recognized for her leadership in an organization that since 2003 has raised funds to sustain an operation that now includes a full-time staff of five and has distributed more than $300,000 in small grants in support of health, education, the economy and the arts to nonprofit organizations throughout the Black Belt.

Dunning, who has advised Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs, in his efforts to establish the University's engagement programs, explained how engagement based on the university's teaching and research strength can put a university at the center of the public's concerns.

Pruitt praised the projects recognized at the luncheon, saying, "These outstanding projects and individuals connect the outreach mission of the University to its teaching and research functions while serving the needs of our local community, the state of Alabama, the region, the nation and the world. They operationalize our motto: Engaging Communities and Changing Lives."

Winning projects will receive funds to be used in future projects or to extend current ones, Pruitt said. All of the nominated projects involve the community, faculty, staff, students, curriculum and formal research, Pruitt said.

Following the luncheon, many attendees attended an open house at the Cannon House, 824 4th Avenue, the home of CCBP.

CCBP began in 2006 as an initiative of the Office of Community Affairs. It mobilizes the resources of the University to address problems identified jointly by community and academic partners. Its purpose is to engage communities, expand the classroom and laboratory, and promote better education, health, economic and cultural opportunities for all Alabamians.

UA Program Leading State Observance of Entrepreneurial Opportunities

February 2007

The University of Alabama's Entrepreneurship Program served as the State Leadership Team for observance of Entrepreneurship Week U.S.A. Feb. 24-March 3.

Ranked 20th in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine, the program used Entrepreneurship Week U.S.A. "to tell Alabamians more about entrepreneurship and to highlight opportunities available to entrepreneurs in Alabama," said David M. Ford, clinical professor and the Sam Walton Fellow in the department of management and marketing at UA's Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration.

The State Leadership Team encourages educational institutions, community organizations, and government agencies throughout Alabama to host events associated with entrepreneurship."

The week was capped off by a reception and award dinner celebrating UA's 20th ranking and other recognitions.

Among the award were the K-12 Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year Award to Earnestine Giles; the Higher Education Entrepreneurship Educator Award to Lisa McKinney; the African American Business Plan Competition Award, Grand Prize to Terrance Meade, who received $2,500 provided by the African American Graduate Student Association; the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Carol Ann Gray

Entrepreneurship is a driving force of the U.S. economy. During the past 15 years, businesses less than five years old have accounted for about 70 percent of the net job creation in the United States. However, while America presently maintains the edge as an entrepreneurial society, there are clear signs of massive economic competition from abroad. More Americans in the future will need to generate more ideas and better innovations if the United States is to stay ahead of the large populations of educated citizens in emerging and globally savvy economies.

Alabama was ranked No. 4 on a Hot States for Entrepreneurs list last year, and several state cities are highly ranked. Mobile is No. 1 among midsize cities, with Birmingham coming in at No. 3.

Auburn-Opelika was No. 1 among small cities followed by Huntsville, No. 19; Montgomery, No. 25; Decatur, No. 39; and Florence, No. 63. ranks Alabama No. 4 in Best States for Small Business, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranks Alabama No. 4 as having the best tax and regulatory climate for entrepreneurs.

UA Course Assists Low-Income Families With Income Tax Filing

  • July 6th, 2010
  • in News

January 2007

More than 80 IRS-certified undergraduate, graduate and law students from the University are providing free income tax services and teaching financial literacy to low-income families in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

Most of the students are enrolled in a UA service learning course that focuses on understanding poverty and requires students to commit to the tax return service.

The initiative is co-sponsored by SaveFirst: A Tax Preparation and Financial Literacy Initiative and the UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility, both directed by UA faculty member Stephen Black. SaveFirst is an initiative of Impact: An Alabama Student Service Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to service learning by students from several cooperating colleges and universities.

Joining UA in SaveFirst are students from Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University and UAB. Students staffed five community-based sites in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham for five weeks during the tax season, targeting families who qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit.

The project provides alternatives to practices that exploit low-income individuals, like payday loan schemes, check-cashing operations and high-interest lending.

The UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility teaches students to take responsibility for the well-being of the larger community, especially through innovative, curriculum-based service learning