Mission Accepted

Former acting administrator of NASA and University of Alabama alumnus Robert Lightfoot has been on a path of reconnection for the past year. After retiring from NASA in April 2018,…

Read Full Story >>
One person sitting while two people stand on either side.

In This Issue

Saving the Planet One Smart Building at a Time

UA students are part of a national team working to reduce energy consumption by buildings and to quantify the savings.

The Sound of Engineering

New degree mixes music and engineering

Mission Accepted

UA launchpad propels alumnus to great heights.


Noteworthy News and Research


Stats from the College of Engineering


Events from Around the College






Items of Interest to Capstone Engineers
& Computer Scientists

In Brief



UA block A
Where Legends Are Made Logo


Vicki Hollub found her purpose early. She joined Occidental Petroleum upon graduation and worked her way to the top, becoming the first female CEO of a major U.S. oil and gas company.

Big bg image of Vicki Hollub


Data Shows Buckling Up Saves Lives in Auto Crashes

Nearly half of the people killed in auto crashes in Alabama last year were not wearing a seat belt, according to an analysis of state crash records.

Researchers Find Patterns Associated with Extreme Floods

Extreme floods across the continental United States are associated with four broad atmospheric patterns, a machine-learning based analysis of extreme floods found.

Researchers Quicken Drug Discovery Method via Zombie-Like Cells

Researchers are using zombie-like cells that behave normally on the outside, but are filled with magnetic particles inside, to screen potential drugs from natural products.

UA Joins UN Network for Sustainable Solutions

A University of Alabama College of Engineering research center has been invited to join a global initiative for the United Nations with a focus on sustainable development.

UA Engineering Racing Team Works with Local Third Graders

A University of Alabama student team is spending the semester working with a local elementary school and teaching students about the importance of STEM.

EPA Grant Assists in Understanding Wastewater Issues in Rural Alabama

With a grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, researchers from environmental engineering and geology will build a model to quantify the extent of untreated raw sewage discharges from homes throughout five counties in the Black Belt, an economically depressed region in the state.

UA Engineering Seniors Build Interactive Cube for RISE

The University of Alabama Astrobotics team and a group of engineering senior design students partnered with the RISE Center, a school for infants and preschoolers with and without special needs on UA’s campus, to provide the children with a sensory cube to assist with in-class therapy.

UA Leading Transportation Project to Improve West Alabama Traffic

In a partnership with federal, state and local agencies, The University of Alabama is leading a more than $16 million project to transform traffic operations in West Alabama and provide leading-edge research to address societal transportation needs.

Alabama Astrobotics’ New Lab Mirrors Competition Space

The Alabama Astrobotics team has recently migrated to its own space in a state-of-the-art lab.

UA College of Engineering Receives Three GAANN Grants

This year marks the first time UA has received three Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need grants in separate engineering departments at the same time.

Grant Expands Professor’s Human-Computer Interaction Research

A University of Alabama computer science professor has received a grant to better understand how K-12 students in the Alabama Black Belt perceive human-computer interaction.

UA Researcher Helps Find Cause of Channels on Antarctic Ice

A researcher at The University of Alabama is part of an international team that found the cause of long, potentially damaging channels on Antarctic Ice Shelves.

UA Again Selected for National Vehicle Competition

Students at The University of Alabama will compete in the latest national vehicle competition that challenges students to develop a hybrid-electric, autonomous vehicle over the next four years.

UA Engineers Part of Research to Maximize U.S. Fuel Economy

Engineering researchers at The University of Alabama will test a blend of a new bio-based fuel and diesel fuel as part of a project to reduce soot and greenhouse gas emissions and yield cleaner engine operation in cold-weather conditions.


LEGACY program prepares young women of color with computer science education

A National Science Foundation grant will enable The University of Alabama to introduce young women of color to opportunities in computer science. The LEGACY Program is an initiative to prepare…

UA hosts Robotics Mining Challenge

The University of Alabama engineering department is hosting the Robotic Mining Challenge  in Tuscaloosa. Twenty-eight teams from colleges all across the country are on campus trying to prove they are the…

UA computer science department honors high school females in computing

The computer science department at The University of Alabama will honor female high school students for their successes in computing. UA will host the 2019 National Center for Women in…

UA hosts annual K-12 robotics competition

Nearly 300 K-12 students from across Alabama were recently welcomed to campus for a computer programming competition that used robotics as a host platform. The University of Alabama College of…

Alabama graduate displays race cars on engineering campus

John Allen, a 1979 University of Alabama graduate in the school of engineering, displayed his BMW race cars Monday in front of the engineering campus. Allen and his team are…

In the Lab: UA Students Help Inspire Next Wave of Scientists

Akshay Narkhede has other research foci in Rao’s lab, but on this day, he’s focused on duplicating hydrogels to demonstrate to several young, curious shadows: high school seniors in a day-long immersion of hands-on lab experiments at UA.

New to the college


Dr. Susan Burkett, Alabama Power Foundation Endowed Professor of electrical and computer engineering, retired May 31, 2019. A native of Columbia, Missouri, she received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri in 1985, 1987 and 1992, respectively. Burkett was an assistant professor at The University of Alabama from 1994-1997, and she returned to UA as an endowed professor in 2008. Her research interests included silicon processing, electronic device fabrication, microelectronic materials, integrated circuit processing and 3D integration. Burkett was a member of UA’s Center for Materials for Information Technology. She was also the UA campus director of the Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, and she was on the executive steering committee of UA’s Women in STEM Experience, or WiSE, Conference. In 1997, Burkett received the prestigious NSF Early Faculty CAREER award to investigate materials reliability issues for information storage devices. In 2014, Burkett was honored with the College’s T. Morris Hackney Faculty Leadership
Award, and in 2016 she was named an American Vacuum Society Fellow. During her career, she also worked at the University of Arkansas, Boise State University, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Becton Dickinson Research Center and AT&T Technologies. Burkett has been awarded more than $10 million in external funding, has more than 120 refereed publications and is an inventor on five U.S. patents.

Dr. John Lusth
, associate professor of computer science, retired May 31, 2019. He taught at UA for 11 years and was named best teacher in the department nine times with the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Excellence in Instruction Award. Lusth received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Michigan Technological University in 1980, a master’s degree in computer science from Duke University in 1983, and a doctorate in computer science from UA in 1997. His research was in programming languages. At UA, he was named a Graduate Council Fellow, a Graduate Council Creative Activity Fellow and was given a College of Engineering Excellence in Research Award. During his career, he also worked at the University of Arkansas, Boise State University, the Statistical Analysis System Institute, Southwest Research Institute, Becton Dickinson Research Center and Milliken and Company. At Boise State, he was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.


UA Students Shine at Hacking Competitions

Several University of Alabama students competed in two Tennessee-based collegiate hacking competitions last fall and won top prizes. VolHacks 2018 was held in Knoxville, Tennessee, last September. This 36-hour annual…

Engineering Students Succeed in Annual UA Business Competition

University of Alabama students were invited to pitch their business ideas at the Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition held on campus this spring. UA College of Engineering students…

Crimson Racing Brings Home Best Finish to Date

Success for UA’s Forumula SAE team did not come easy. The 18-member student team had to overcome a few small mechanical and electrical issues that needed to be addressed before competition.

Engineering Seniors Win Second Consecutive IEEE Robotic Competition

For the second consecutive year, a senior robotics team from The University of Alabama took home a win at an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers regional conference.

UA Robotics Team Wins NASA’s Grand Prize for Fifth Consecutive Year

For the fifth consecutive year, the student robotics team from The University of Alabama won NASA’s grand prize in its Robotics Mining Competition.

UA Engineering Alumni Honor 2019 Outstanding Senior

Morgan Ross, who studied metallurgical and materials engineering at The University of Alabama, received the 2019 Capstone Engineering Society Outstanding Senior Award. A native of Meridian, Mississippi, she earned 10…

3 UA Students Land Prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program has selected three University of Alabama students as Goldwater Scholars for 2019-2020.

UA Recognizes Leadership, Innovation with 2019 Premier Awards

The University of Alabama will recognize the recipients of the 2019 Premier Awards – the top individual honors for scholarship, leadership and service — at a dinner Thursday, Feb. 21, as well as during Honors Week.


Ricks Receives UA Engineering’s Hackney Leadership Award

The T. Morris Hackney Endowed Faculty Leadership Award honors a faculty member who exemplifies the constant guidance and leadership necessary to make the College of Engineering exceptional.

UA Professors Chosen for Fulbrights

Three members of The University of Alabama’s faculty will receive Fulbright Scholar Grants for the upcoming year.

UA Celebrates Research, Creative Activity by UA Faculty

Members of The University of Alabama faculty were honored for their research and creative contributions at Faculty Research Day. Eight members of the UA faculty, including mechanical engineering associate professor…

Professor Selected as UA’s SEC Achievement Award Winner

Officials of the Southeastern Conference announced that Dr. Ramana Reddy, ACIPCO Endowed Professor in Metallurgy, is the 2019 SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner for The University of Alabama.

UA Engineering Professor Chosen as 2019 Materials Research Society Meeting Chair

A University of Alabama associate professor of chemical and biological engineering has been chosen to help lead the 2019 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting. Dr. Yuping Bao will serve as…

UA engineering professor named AVS Fellow

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A University of Alabama metallurgical and materials engineering professor has received an American Vacuum Society Fellow award for her contributions to disciplines related to materials, interfaces and…

UA Researchers Recognized for First Awards

More than 80 members of the faculty and staff were honored for receiving their first externally funded research award at The University of Alabama during the past academic year.

UA engineering assistant professor wins top conference paper award

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A University of Alabama assistant professor of computer science was awarded three Best Paper Awards at the 2018 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on…


UA Engineering Recognizes 2019 Outstanding Alumni Volunteer

The University of Alabama College of Engineering recently recognized Robert P. Barnett as its 2019 Outstanding Alumni Volunteer. He has demonstrated loyalty to the College by previously serving on the…

UA College of Engineering Honors 2019 Distinguished Fellows

The University of Alabama College of Engineering honored five alumni by inducting them into its 2019 class of Distinguished Engineering Fellows.



Dr. Bernard J. Schroer, MSE, was one of three inaugural inductees into the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame. The AAMA Hall of Fame recognizes individuals in Alabama who have made a significant impact on the establishment and growth of the automotive manufacturing industry in the state. Schroer founded the AAMA in 2001.

Vicki A. Hollub, BSMinE (Pet.), was No. 19 on Fortune magazine’s 2018 Businessperson of the Year list. Hollub, chief executive officer of Occidental Petroleum Corp., became the first female CEO of a major U.S. oil company in 2016.

Milton Davis, BSChE, was appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey and reconfirmed by the Alabama Senate to the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees for another four-year term. Davis began his service to the Board of Trustees — the governing body of the ACCS that oversees Alabama’s 25 community and technical colleges— in 2015.

J. David Pugh, BSCE, was listed in the 2019 edition of Who’s Who Legal: Construction as among the world’s leading construction lawyers. Pugh is a partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP and is a member of the firm’s Construction Practice Group in Birmingham.

Ricardo Koki Machin, BSAE, was presented with the 2019 Theodor W. Knacke Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Award by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the 2019 AIAA AVIATION Forum. The award is given for excellence in the area of design, test, and certification of human-rated capsule recovery parachutes enabling mankind to explore beyond the Earth. At the National Space Club’s 62nd Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington, D.C., Machin received the Eagle Manned Mission Award for completing Orion’s final parachute drop test in September 2018.

Tim Dunn, BSEE, accepted the Nelson P. Jackson Award for NASA’s Delta II Program Team at the National Space Club’s 62nd Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes an outstanding contribution to the missile, aircraft and space field during the preceding year and is given in honor of the late Nelson P. Jackson, a founding member and past president of the National Space Club.

Douglas A. Moore, BSEE, was named vice president of cloud platform at Command Alkon, the supplier collaboration platform for construction’s heavy work. In his role, Moore will bolster the company’s long-term technology vision, be responsible for the cloud platform and drive key cloud technology topics such as scalability, security, analytics and information access.

Matthew J. Ericksen, BSCE, was named the lead engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Southwest Region. He is responsible for administering and directing activities in planning, construction, equipment, maintenance, and materials and tests to ensure functionality of the area’s infrastructure. The Southwest Region consists of the following counties: Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Washington, Monroe, Wilcox, Marengo, Choctaw and Clarke in the Grove Hill area.

Warren Davis, BSCS, received the 2019 Research Leadership Award at the Black Engineer of the Year STEM Global Competitiveness Conference in Washington, D.C. The award is given for being a consistent leader in discovering, developing and implementing new technologies.

Johnny Howze, BSME, assumed the new position of vice president of supply chain management at Southern Company. In this position, he accelerates the company’s category management work and develops and executes strategies to support Southern Company gas, fossil and hydro generation and shared services, including supplier diversity and supply chain data analytics. Previously, he was plant manager at the company’s Plant Scherer.

J. Gaston Large III, BSEE, assumed the role of distribution engineering supervisor at Alabama Power Company’s Power Delivery office in Haleyville. He began his career with Alabama Power Company in 2000 as a co-op student. In 2014, he was promoted to senior engineer and became an engineering supervisor in 2017.

Arnar Thors, BSME, MSME ’07, is the president and chief executive officer of AerBetic Inc., which is developing an innovative device to help diabetics better manage their blood sugar. The company demonstrated its non-invasive, wearable diabetes alert system at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which showcases more than 4,500 manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content and delivery systems.

Dr. Olivia Underwood, BSMtE, MSMtE ’09, was featured on Albuquerque Business First’s 2019 40 Under Forty list for her professional achievements, leadership and community commitment as a young professional in New Mexico. This year she also received the 2019 Frank Crossley Diversity Award from The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society at the group’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, and she received a 2019 Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award at the Black Engineer of the Year STEM Global Competitiveness Conference in Washington, D.C. for actively creating new paths for others in science, research, technology and development.

In Brief

Dr. Paul Allison, mechanical engineering, was named to the Graphene Academic Council. The University of Alabama was one of eight universities that joined the council. It was formed in May 2019 and is governed by the National Graphene Association.

Dr. Edward Back, civil, construction and environmental engineering, was selected as an SEC Academic Leadership Development Program fellow for the 2018-2019 Academic Year.

Dr. Jeff Gray, computer science, was presented with a commendation from Gov. Kay Ivey for his work in helping to expand the K-12 computer science options in Alabama over the past decade.

Dr. Mukesh Kumar, civil, construction and environmental engineering, received the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Samman Award for outstanding services, achievements and contributions. Presented by the Non-Resident Indian Welfare Society of India to about 60 nonresident Indians per year out of nearly 16 million living outside of India, the award recognizes their accomplishments while also strengthening the bond between nonresident Indians and India.


The SEC Faculty Travel Program supported more than 100 SEC faculty members during the 2018-2019 academic year. Participants traveled to other SEC universities to exchange ideas, develop grant proposals, conduct research and deliver lectures or performances. University of Alabama College of Engineering travelers and the universities they visited include:

Dr. Qing Peng, chemical and biological engineering, Auburn University

Dr. Steve Ritchie, chemical and biological engineering, University of Kentucky

Dr. Ryan Summers, chemical and biological engineering, University of Georgia

In Memory


Dr. Richard C. “Dick” Bradt died Jan. 3, 2019, in Birmingham. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Bradt grew up in nearby Mascoutah, Illinois. He obtained a bachelor’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, and a master’s and doctorate at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. After working at Pennsylvania State University, University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Nevada-Reno, Bradt joined the faculty of The University of Alabama College of Engineering in 1994 as head of the department of metallurgical and materials engineering. In 2004, he was named the Alton N. Scott Professor of Engineering. Bradt retired in 2009, but as Professor Emeritus, he remained an active researcher, speaker and educator. His research focused on the properties of refractories, glass and ceramics. With students and colleagues from all over the world, he published more than 400 articles and edited more than 20 proceedings of international meetings. Bradt advised more than 100 graduate students and directed 50 doctoral dissertations. The American Ceramic Society presented him with the W. David Kingery Award in 2013, and named him a Distinguished Life Member in 2017. He was especially pleased to be awarded The University of Alabama Burnum Distinguished Faculty Award in 1998.


Eugene Luke “Gene” Croxton Jr. died Dec. 14, 2018, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A native of Montgomery, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from The University of Alabama in 1952. Croxton was employed by Ethyl Corporation for 40 years. He was named a Fellow of UA’s chemical and biological engineering department in 1988, and was honored as a Centennial Fellow by the department in 2010. Croxton was one of six graduates in the 1952 chemical engineering class that remained close friends and celebrated annual reunions.


Michael Allan Gibbs died Oct. 1, 2018, in Greenwich, Connecticut. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Gibbs graduated from The University of Alabama in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. Later he received a master’s degree in industrial management from New York Polytechnic University. At UA, Gibbs was a member of the Air Force ROTC program, and he served for three years in the U.S. Air Force military air transport squadron at Hickman Air Force Base in Hawaii. He was honorably discharged in 1960 with the rank of captain. His career as an engineer, executive and consultant included working for Treadwell Engineering on the Navy’s Polaris Nuclear Submarine Project; working as a consultant at Booz, Allen, Hamilton; overseeing corporate planning for Leasco Data Corp. and the Reliance Group; and working with numerous companies and clients through his investment banking and financial consulting firm, Page Mill Management. Gibbs was named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow of the College in 1988.


Thomas J. “Jack” Lee died Feb. 24, 2019, in Birmingham. Born in Wedowee, Lee graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s in aeronautical engineering in 1958. He later received an honorary doctorate from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Lee began his professional career as an aeronautical research engineer with the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal. When the agency transferred to NASA in 1960, Lee worked as a systems engineer with the Center’s Centaur Resident Manager Office in San Diego. From 1963 to 1965, he was resident project manager for the Pegasus Meteoroid Detection Satellite Project in Bladensburg, Maryland, and from 1965-1969 was chief of the Center’s Saturn Program Resident Office at Kennedy Space Center. He served as assistant to the technical deputy director of Marshall Space Flight Center from 1969 to 1973 and became program manager of the Spacelab Program Office in 1974. As manager of the Spacelab Program Office, he was responsible for NASA’s work with the European Space Agency in the development of Spacelab, a multipurpose reusable laboratory for Earth orbital science activities. In 1980, Lee became the deputy director of Marshall until his appointment as the center’s director in 1989. He retired in 1995 and co-founded LWI, an engineering consulting firm. He later founded Lee & Associates, LLC, a systems engineering consulting firm, and served as president until his death. Lee was involved with the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission, Sci-Quest Hands-on Science Center, National Space Club and more. He was named a UA Distinguished Engineering Fellow in 1988 and to the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 1993.


Thomas Marshall Marr Sr. died April 17, 2019. Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, he graduated with an associate degree from the Marion Institute, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from The University of Alabama, and a Juris Doctor degree from The University of Alabama School of Law. UA’s civil, construction and environmental engineering department named him a Fellow in 1992, and UA’s College of Engineering named him a Distinguished Engineering Fellow in 2011. During Marr’s career, he was an assistant attorney general for the state of Alabama, a representative for the Alabama Legislature, president and chairman of the Board of Deposit National Bank of Mobile, director of Central Bank of Mobile, and director of Mrs. Stratton’s Salads. He also founded DRC, Inc., which provided emergency services during natural disasters. Marr was the senior law partner in the firm Marr & Friedlander, PC, for more than 50 years with his late partner Maury Friedlander. He was a successful entrepreneur in Baldwin County, having built the first privately-owned sewage treatment plant in Orange Beach and numerous condominium projects.


Cecil A. Wooten Jr. died Nov. 5, 2018. Born in Laurel, Mississippi, and raised in Birmingham, Wooten graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1949. While still in high school, he began working as a file clerk in the drafting room at Chicago Bridge and Iron Company. Wooten rose to senior vice president during a 43-year career with the company and served on the board of directors for 18 years. He entered the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1942 and rose from the rank of private to first lieutenant. A platoon leader during the Battle of the Bulge, he received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement, along with many other commendations and awards. After the war, he served as the assistant to the general in charge of all post-war operations. Wooten had a remarkable career, traveling the world and doing business with J. Paul Getty, serving on a number of corporate boards of directors, and appearing before several Senate committees regarding his expertise on nuclear power plants. He is listed in the Who’s Who of American Businessmen. After retiring from the company, Wooten began to work full time in Christian ministry. Cecil retired for the second time from the International Churches of Christ as the chief administrator. Wooten was named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow in 1988.


Jackson A. Ashton, BSCE ’49
Walter L. Ashton Jr., BSME ’43, BSCE ’47
James S. Atkins, BSChE ’69, MSChE ’72
Clifford J. Balzli Sr., BSME ’52
Wilbur G. Berry Jr., BSIE ’55
Colonel Luke H. Boykin, BSAE ’53
Phillip L. Brasher, BSCE ’54
James S. Buckler, BSIE ’58
Robert E. Busby, BSIE ’65
Raymond F. Cathcart, BSME ’48
Jefferson D. Cowen, BSMtE ’53
William W. DaLee Jr., BSEE ’57
Carl M. Davis, BSME ’61
Russell E. Dean, BSIE ’60
Wilbur I. Doty, BSME ’67
Donald R. Ferguson Jr., BSAE ’85
Arthur E. Fitzgerald, BSIE ’51
William S. Fuller Jr., BSME ’58
Frank P. Gasper, BSME ’63
Adolphus H. Gibson Jr., BSME ’54
Frederick E. Glazner, BSEE ’64
John P. Green, BSCE ’75
Phillip S. Hanna, BSCS ’96
Ernest N. Harmon Jr., BSME ’49
Joe G. Harvey, BSIE ’57
Leroy J. Helt Jr., BSAE ’62
James M. Hillman, BSE ’69

Johnny M. Hutt, BSCE ’63, MSCE ’65
Robert K. Johnson BSEE ’51
Floyd D. Jury, BSME ’61
Clifton A. Kirby, BSME ’60
Samuel H. Livingston Jr., BSME ’50
Charles E. Mattson, BSChE ’68
John D. McClain, BSME ’60
Hubert R. McLellan, BSCE ’60
Frank Michel Sr., BSEE ’51
James R. Morrow Sr., BSCE ’50
Jack J. Nichols, MSMh ’63
Leon A. Nolen III, BSME ’63
Dimitrios Plionis, MSIE ’70
Ernest M. Plummer, BSAE ’50, BSCE ’54
Shelton L. Price, BSAE ’66
Fred B. Roberson Jr., BSME ’54
William P. Sherer, BSEE ’81
William R. Tatum Sr., BSEE ’51
Charles P. Terrier, BSME ’67
Jack D. Traill, BSEE ’67
Alan D. Trott, BSIE ’51
William S. Viall, MSE ’62
Seth W. Ward, BSCE ’52
John S. Williams, BSME ’73

End User

Photo of Susan Noble

Susan “Sues” Noble, administrative secretary of Engineering Student Services, was recognized by The University of Alabama’s Office, Clerical and Technical Staff Assembly with a 2019 Outstanding Staff Award. The award recipients were announced at OCTSA’s May meeting, with Lynn Brooks, WVUA 23 news director and anchor, as presenter. Noble was recognized for her generosity and efforts in going far beyond the important administrative aspects of her job to show personal warmth, understanding and concern for staff and students alike. Whether she is making phone calls for anxious students or handling last-minute meeting details, Noble does so with grace and patience, according to the nomination materials. Learn more about her in this Q&A.

CE: What do you do in Engineering Student Services and the Freshman Engineering Program?
Noble: As an administrative secretary, I provide support to both the Engineering Advising Center and the Freshman Engineering Program. I make sure that supplies are ordered, classrooms are reserved, all the structure that the programs need to work within in order to fulfill their mission statements.

CE: How does your job support student life? Why is your job important to young engineers’ development?
Noble: I love the fact that my job supports student life in that I get to encourage students, find them help when they need it, fuss at them when they need that, and I enjoy being part of their success. My job is important to the engineering students because sometimes they can get so overwhelmed by the enormity of their endeavors they lose focus. I’m there to keep them on track, guide them along their flowchart and school career – providing help and a roadmap along the way.

CE: How did it feel to receive this award? Do you know how you were selected?
Noble: When I found out I had been nominated it made me cry simply because I love what I do so much, and to be nominated for an award for doing what I love is humbling. One of the people who nominated me said that I always say, “My job is to make your job easier.” That’s how I feel about all that I do. If I’m doing my job correctly, then the people I come into contact with, students, faculty, advisors, will be helped along their path of being successful. It can be getting a classroom, finding a tutor for a student, printing out flowcharts for advisors. I am the facilitator for other people to achieve what they need to – and I get to enjoy doing it. The other members of the ESS office nominated me.

CE: How are you involved with OCTSA? Why is this organization important?
Noble: I have been involved with the OCTSA for several years and was past chair for the Professional Development Committee. I think that the OCTSA is vitally important because the staff work behind the scenes to make sure that faculty, students and other administrators have what they need in order to be able to do what they do. What we do may not seem significant or important, but when the copier jams while faculty are trying to print out final exams – you’ll see how important we are!

How long have you worked at UA? How has your experience been?
Noble: I have worked at UA since 2005 and have enjoyed hearing all the success stories and watching “my” students become successful adults with their own children. I’ve also tried to practice what I preach and since 2005, using the UA Educational Benefit, I have earned a BS in HES, an MA in Higher Education Administration and am currently working on a second master’s in Interactive Technology, and should be finished in December. As a first-generation, non-traditional student, I’m proof that anyone can be successful if they put in the effort and are willing to sacrifice in the short-term for rewards in the long-run.