Clayton Selected as Recipient of UA’s Non-Traditional Thesis and Project Thesis Award

By Sarah Chase

Jonathan Clayton, a non-thesis master’s student studying civil engineering, was recently selected as the recipient of The University of Alabama’s Non-Traditional Thesis and Project Thesis Award. 

Clayton’s thesis project involved creating a K-12 educational program. As part of the program, educators collaborated with researchers in the fields of civil and environmental engineering to educate students on water literacy, as it is often overlooked in STEM education. 

“Previous research suggests that middle school is generally when interest in STEM careers declines, so I focused most of my educational videos on topics suitable for this age range,” Clayton said. “These videos were then used by partnering with teachers to develop lesson plans and other educational materials. To further student exposure to STEM careers and higher education, I and other members of my research team guest lectured in K-12 classrooms on the subject of opportunities in environmental engineering.”

Leigh Terry, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, nominated Clayton for the award because of his drive and passion for STEM education. Clayton was selected because of his strong research skills, creativity and ability to interpret and analyze information.

“Jonathan is a highly motivated and intelligent student dedicated to inspiring the upcoming generation of engineers and nurturing their interest in STEM from an early age. His master’s research has a substantial impact on the outreach and STEM education sector, not only benefiting our Alabama communities but also reaching beyond,” Terry said. 

Clayton’s project was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and the outcomes were presented at the program’s workshop. Clayton will receive an honorarium of $1,200 from the UA Graduate School and will be recognized at a reception in April.

“Receiving this award is immensely affirming. It has bolstered my confidence in the educational program I helped develop by reminding me of how much STEM education has impacted me and how important it is for future generations as well,” Clayton said. “Being recognized for this work reminds me that this program plays a role in a much bigger picture of the entire education system.”

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,200 students and more than 170 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.

Author: Sarah Chase    /    Posted on: March 18, 2024    /    Posted in:   Awards and Honors, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Featured, Students