Developing a Professional

The University of Alabama’s Mentor UPP Program gives engineering students and alumni access to valuable industry insights and relationships. The program connects students with mentors and aims to provide educational…

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In This Issue

Developing a Professional

Alumni support students in transition from college to career

Investing in the Future Through the Past

A 95-year family tradition of educational philanthropy

Securing the Workforce

UA combats the growing challenge of cyber security with new degree, alumni partnership


Noteworthy News and Research


Stats from the College of Engineering


Events from Around the College






Items of Interest to Capstone Engineers
& Computer Scientists



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Where Legends Are Made Logo


The internet barely existed when Nan Jackson Boden enrolled in college so UA prepared her for a future she could not see yet. Today, she leads technology partnerships for Google Cloud and envisions the future for millions of people every day.

Big bg image of Nan Jackson Boden


UA team named Year Three Champion in EcoCAR Mobility Challenge

UA’s team has taken the lead in the third year of this automotive engineering competition.

UA Research to Enhance Flood Resilience of Coastal Communities

Researchers at The University of Alabama Center for Complex Hydrosystems Research are working to develop advanced computational earth science and coastal models that help coastal communities prepare for flooding from…

NIH Grant Supports UA Study of Acute Kidney Injury Treatment

Researchers at The University of Alabama will study a novel nanomedicine treatment for acute kidney injury, a common disease with no federally-approved medication.

UA CyberSeed Program Funds More Campus Research

Four promising research projects received funding from Year 2 of The University of Alabama Cyber Initiative’s CyberSeed program, part of the UA Office for Research and Economic Development.

New EPIC Scholars Program Will Promote Equity, Enrichment for Engineering Honors Students

UA’s College of Engineering has partnered with the Honors College to introduce a new enrichment opportunity for entering freshmen this fall. The Engineering Positive and Intentional Change, or EPIC, Scholars…

Nearly a Third of Mobile Bay Marshes Gone Since 1980s, Study Finds

About half a football field of marshes on the edges of Mobile Bay vanished annually over the past 35 years, according to a study by researchers at The University of…

Crimson Autonomous Racing team races up leader board in Indy Autonomous Challenge

An engineering faculty member at The University of Alabama and a student team are making strides in a two-year competition with universities around the world for a chance to win…

New Grant Strengthens Work to Solve Rural Wastewater Challenge

Recently announced federal funding will move forward an ambitious project to demonstrate effective solutions to raw sewage draining into the waterways of the state’s Black Belt region.

UA Researchers Building Communication Robot for Law Enforcement

Engineering and communication researchers at The University of Alabama are building the next generation of affordable law enforcement robotic technology.

UA Professors to Study Underwater Robotics Wireless Communications

Selected by the National Science Foundation, the professors will lead a $1.5 million effort to develop an infrastructure for underwater research robots to exchange information.

NASA Mission to Include Contributions from UA Engineering

Engineering researchers at The University of Alabama will contribute to a pioneering spaceflight mission set to launch in 2025.

UA Engineering Researchers Investigating Solutions for Jet Biofuel

The study is part of a $3.8 million grant from the United States Department of Energy.


Most events remained virtual during the spring as campus began loosening restrictions.

During the spring 2021 semester, many meetings and events happened virtually through video conferencing as The University of Alabama worked to maximize opportunities during pandemic restrictions.

Steel Day kicked off the spring semester in February with a completely virtual lineup of steel-related industries networking with students and sharing career opportunities. The event was organized by Dr. Nilesh Kumar, metallurgical and materials engineering assistant professor. The following day, the UA Career Center hosted a virtual Technical and Engineering Career Fair for students to connect with hiring employers.

In March, the spring semester hit full swing. At the beginning of the month, the Engineering Career Development Center held Co-op Interview Day.

A week later, Mentor UPP held an alumni panel for students to ask five alumni questions relating to career readiness and experience. The alumni generously shared their time to talk with students and give their tips for preparing for life after college. Smith also held an event to Celebrate Women’s History Month with the second and third African American women to graduate from the UA College of Engineering, Carnetta Nabors Davis and Carvetta Nabors Williams.

In April, Dr. Alex Hainen, civil, construction and environmental engineering associate professor, took students in his CE48 Traffic Engineering class to see the new 2nd Avenue overpass on campus. The students talked with UA senior project manager, David Welch, and the superintendents from Brasfield & Gorrie about transportation, construction, materials and water/drainage components involved in the project.

Bama Blitz 2021 was held at its typical time in April; unlike the 2020 crowdfunding campaign, which was rescheduled for last fall. The event grew to a four-day extravaganza of fundraising. This year the College focused its efforts on raising money to purchase another engine lathe for the student machine shop in Hardaway Hall. Thanks to generous donors, $8,293 was raised from 54 gifts and a matching promise from Bryant Bank. In addition to the passion project, the CES raised $2,887 from 29 gifts.

UA announced plans to return to full operations for the fall 2021 semester.

New to the college


Dr. John W. Van Zee, professor of chemical and biological engineering, retired in August 2021 after 8 1/2 years at The University of Alabama and 28 1/2 years at the University of South Carolina. Van Zee earned his bachelor’s degree in 1975 from the University of California, Berkeley, his master’s in 1982 and doctorate in 1984 at Texas A&M University, all in chemical engineering. His research focused on electrochemical engineering with recent projects in concentrated solar power. At USC, Van Zee directed the National Science Foundation Center for Fuel Cells, an Industry-University Cooperative Research Center. His awards include the 2008 Research Achievement Award from the College of Engineering and Computing at USC and the 2005 Gold Medal of Honor from the Third European Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Forum. Van Zee was a member of the Plug Power Scientific Advisory Board in 2007 and 2008. He graduated 27 doctoral students and 11 master’s students in his career.


Dr. Richard Borie, associate professor of computer science, retired at the end of May 2021. He worked at The University of Alabama for 32 years. Borie earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1983 and a master’s degree in computer science in 1984, both from UA. He received another master’s degree in 1986 and his doctorate in 1988, both in information and computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Borie has done research developing algorithms to solve difficult problems related to graphs and computer theory.


UA Engineering Alumni Honor 2021 Outstanding Senior

Emma Sanders, who studied chemical engineering at The University of Alabama, received the 2021 Capstone Engineering Society Outstanding Senior Award. A student in the Honors College with a premedical concentration…

Two UA Students Win Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program has selected two University of Alabama students as Goldwater Scholars for 2021-2022. The selections bring the number of UA students who…

Three UA Students Earn Critical Language Scholarship

Three University of Alabama students have received the Critical Language Scholarship to study overseas during summer 2021. The Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS program, is part of a U.S. State Department…

UA Students Win Gilman International Scholarships

The scholarships will enable students to study abroad during the 2021-2022 academic year.


National Awards for Early Career Research go to Four UA Professors

During the past academic year, four professors at The University of Alabama received national recognition early in their careers for leading-edge research that will advance knowledge and enhance the educational…

Alabama Water Institute Names First Faculty Fellowship Recipients

The Alabama Water Institute selected three UA faculty members as the inaugural fellows in the AWI Faculty Fellowship Program.

New Director of the Randall Research Scholars Program

Dr. Jeff Gray, professor in the Department of Computer Science at The University of Alabama’s College of Engineering, has been chosen as the new director of the Randall Research Scholars…

UA Professor Named Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador

Dr. Steven Jones with UA’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering was recently named a Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador.

President’s Faculty Research Award Recipients for 2021 Honored

Faculty Research Day highlights and celebrates excellence in research, creativity and scholarship by honoring faculty from across campus. It is also intended to increase awareness and generate enthusiasm for scholarship…

Two UA Engineering Faculty Recognized by ASCE

The Environmental & Water Resources Institute, one of the nine technical institutes a part of the American Society of Civil Engineers, has recognized two trailblazing professors from The University of…


New EPIC Scholars Program and University Honors Program Assistant Professor

O’Harra received a doctorate in chemical engineering, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical and biological engineering and a second bachelor’s in dance with a mathematics minor from The University…

UA Hires Preeminent Alumnus to Advance Water Research Initiatives

An expert water researcher and University of Alabama alumnus is joining the faculty of UA’s College of Engineering. Dr. Steven Burian will join the civil, construction and environmental engineering department…



John Lassiter, BSAE, retired as a test facility manager from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Test Laboratory in December 2020 with over 42 years of federal service. He will continue to serve on the UA Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Industry Advisory Board and as a docent with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Milton Davis, BSChE, was selected by the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees to serve as chairman in May 2021. Davis began his service on the board in 2015. He is the director of industrial business development for BL Harbert International.

Pierce H. Norton II, BSME, was named president and chief executive officer of ONEOK, Inc. He was previously president and CEO of ONE Gas, Inc. ONEOK is a leading midstream service provider in the United States connecting prolific supply basins with key market centers.

Scott Gray, BSIE, was named president of Gray Analytics, Inc., a cybersecurity firm based in Huntsville.

Dr. Lyle Cain, BSChE, University of Alabama team orthopedic surgeon, was recognized as the Southeastern Conference Team Physician of the Year, and the University of Alabama Athletics’ orthopaedic team was named the SEC Orthopaedic Team of the Year.

Brig. Gen. David A. Harris Jr., BSAE, was nominated by the president of the Senate for promotion to major general in the U.S. Air Force in February 2021.

Rodney Chester, BSCE, MSCE ’97,was announced as the next chief executive officer of Gresham Smith, an architecture, engineering and design firm in Nashville. He will assume the role in January 2022. Previously, Chester was the company’s chief operating officer.

Barbara Hattemer McCrary, BSME, MSME ’05, was named 2021 Engineer of the Year by the Engineering Council of Birmingham in February 2021. She is the president of HHB Engineers, P.C., a consulting firm for mechanical engineers in the architectural, engineering and construction industry.

Ryan Letson, BSME, was promoted to partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Huntsville.

Dr. Justin Hill, BSME, MSME ’11, was named Young Engineer of the Year by the Engineering Council of Birmingham in February 2021. He is a principal research engineer at Southern Company Services.

Nealy Martin, BSChE, signed with Racing Louisville Football Club in April. Martin played for the Crimson Tide from 2016-19. She was the 2019 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year and was selected as a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American that season.

In Memory

Raymond M. Hollub
Raymond “Ray” Matthew Hollub died Jan. 19, 2021, in Tuscaloosa. He was 92. Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Hollub served in the U.S. Navy during War World II, the Korean War and Vietnam War. He earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1955 and master’s degree in engineering mechanics in 1958 from The University of Alabama. Hollub was an associate professor and the department head of aerospace engineering at UA. For 13 years, he was an administrator for the UA College of Continuing Studies. Hollub co-founded the Alabama Labor-Management Council and the UA Safe State program.

Herschel A. Matheny
Herschel Albert Matheny died Jan. 23, 2021, in Huntsville. He was 90. Born in Guntersville, Matheny served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After his service, Matheny attended The University of Alabama on the GI Bill, graduating in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He was co-founder, president and chairman of the board of Dynetics, Inc., an aerospace, defense and information technology company based in Huntsville. Matheny was named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow of UA’s College of Engineering in 1988 and was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2021. He established the Herschel and Lynne Matheny Endowed Engineering Scholarship.

M.A. Oztekin
M.A. “John” Oztekin died Dec. 14, 2020. He was 95. A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Oztekin studied liberal arts in his home country before moving to Michigan in 1947 to study engineering and commerce at the University of Michigan. He then transferred to The University of Alabama after he began a relationship with a pen pal from Alabama, who he would later marry. After Oztekin earned his degree and became a naturalized citizen in 1951, he moved to Detroit for a job with a store-fixtures manufacturer. In 1956, Oztekin moved back to Alabama and established Dixie Craft Manufacturing Company to produce shelving and counters for retail merchandising. In 1958, he started Kent Corporation, a fixture and equipment manufacturing company, and patented his idea for the first unitized single-piece adjustable steel shelves and uprights with integrated roll formed back-panel channels. Oztekin also founded landholding Supermatic Development Corporation in 1962. He was nominated for the President’s “E” Award for significant contributions to the U.S. export program in 1968. Oztekin was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2007, named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow of the UA College of Engineering in 2006 and established the Oztekin Family Endowed Scholarship at UA.

Joseph E. Sanders Jr.
Joseph Everett Sanders Jr. died April 8, 2021, in Birmingham. He was 82. Born in Tuscaloosa and raised in Aliceville, Sanders first attended Marion Military Institute before going to The University of Alabama to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. At UA, Sanders was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity, student vice president of the engineering school and a distinguished military student. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserves as a captain. After graduating in 1960, Sanders moved to Charleston, West Virginia, and started his lifelong career with Union Carbide Corporation. He traveled regularly for work, visiting places like Japan, Canada and Venezuela, and spent time living in Texas and Brazil. Sanders retired from the company as the director of central research and engineering technology for chemical and plastics. He was recognized as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow by the UA College of Engineering in 1990-1991 and served many years on the advisory board for the chemical and biological engineering department.

Dr. Michael E. Stevenson
Dr. Michael Earle Stevenson died March 28, 2021, in Georgia. He was 44. Stevenson received his bachelor’s in 1998, master’s in 1999 and doctorate in 2001, all in metallurgical and materials engineering, from The University of Alabama. He completed all three degrees in seven years from 1994-2001, making him the fastest individual to do so at Alabama. While still in school, Stevenson worked as a metallurgist and non-destructive technician for Ultrasonics and Magnetics Corporation in New Orleans and also played for the UA Rugby Football Club. After graduate school, he co-founded the firm Metals & Materials Engineers. Stevenson became the vice president and principal engineer for the company, and stayed in that position until 2007 when he joined Engineering Systems Inc., or ESi, as the vice president and director of Georgia operations. In 2009, he was appointed president, and in 2010, he became chief executive officer. Additionally, Stevenson was appointed board chairman in 2018 and remained in that position until his death. He was a professional engineer in 11 states, authored more than 300 technical reports and presented at numerous industry and technical forums. Stevenson chaired and co-chaired several symposiums and served as editor-in-chief of ASM International’s Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention. He paid tribute to a former UA professor, Dr. Richard C. Bradt, by founding a lecture series in his honor in 2013. Stevenson also served on the industrial advisory board for both the aerospace engineering and mechanics department and the metallurgical and materials engineering department at UA. He was named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow of the UA College of Engineering in 2018, and he established the Dr. Michael E. Stevenson Memorial Endowed Engineering Scholarship.

Kenneth R. Winslow
Kenneth Robert Winslow died March 18, 2021, in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He was 99. Born in Waterville, Maine, Winslow served in the Army Air Corps and Air Force as a bomber pilot. After, he attended The University of Alabama and earned his bachelor’s degree in mineral engineering, mining in 1947 and a master’s in 1955. At UA, Winslow was a member of the Million Dollar Band and engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi. He was an employee of the New Jersey Zinc Company until he retired in 1980 as vice president of mining, gulf and western industries. In 1988, Winslow was named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow of the UA College of Engineering.

End User

Photo of Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson joined the College of Engineering in April 2021 as the director of development. The development director builds relationships with alumni and corporate partners to support the needs of the College through philanthropic fundraising and strategic planning. Learn more about Ron and his position in this Q&A.

CE: Why is UA’s Capital Campaign important to the College of Engineering?

Wilson: The College of Engineering at The University of Alabama is in a great position to continue its recent growth. According to the American Society for Engineering Education 2019 Edition, the College holds national top 50 rankings in highest number of undergraduate degrees annually awarded, engineering undergraduate degrees awarded to women and undergraduate enrollment. When the focus bears down to the various departments, the College of Engineering holds national top 10 rankings in degrees awarded in chemical engineering, civil engineering and mechanical engineering. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education rates The University of Alabama as a R1: Doctoral Universities –Very High Research Activity status university. This rating opens the window of opportunity for the College of Engineering to expand the excellence of its academic base to develop a graduate program to match its undergraduate program. The College of Engineering finds itself poised to take the final step to move into the most elite colleges of engineering in the United States. The ultimate goal of the Capital Campaign is for the graduate and undergraduate programs to reach the same high standard with the involvement of alumni and friends of the College.

CE: What are the College’s priorities for the Capital Campaign?

Wilson: Because of the University’s R1 research status, the priorities for the College of Engineering align toward deepening and expanding the research capacity of the College. These efforts translate into establishing more named endowed chairs and professorships in each of the seven engineering departments, recognizing several of our most successful alumni with named endowments and identifying that person or family who may desire to name the College of Engineering. In order for each of the departments to foster its graduate programs, the College must have additional funds to attract and recruit the best engineering students to UA’s College of Engineering. Finally, to enhance the undergraduate students’ experiential learning opportunities, funds will be allocated to give students the space and tools they need to be successful.

CE: What do you do as a development director?

Wilson: As director of development for the College of Engineering, I coordinate the College’s development priorities with the development priorities of the University. Practically, this affords me the daily opportunity to work with some of the best development personnel in the profession. These professionals include the frontline fundraisers and the communication specialists situated throughout the University. In the College of Engineering, I am fortunate to work with Tru Livaudais, assistant director of development, who partners with me to identify, engage and cultivate relationships that result in greater current and endowed funds for the College.

CE: How can alumni and friends make a difference in the College through giving?

Wilson: On Sept. 10, 2021, the public phase of the Capital Campaign launched. In order for the College to reach our goal of raising $55 million during this campaign, the College of Engineering will need all of our alumni and friends to be aware of the opportunity, informed of the priority projects and involved with the process. We hope to see our young alumni, mid-career graduates and quite mature alumni equally give serious consideration to making an appropriate gift to push the College over the top of its goal.

CE: Why is giving back to the UA College of Engineering important?

Wilson: When I am asked what I do for a living, I respond, “I assist in the development of educational opportunities for students at The University of Alabama.” Development is all about involving people as partners in the educational process and producing a new generation of exceptionally educated and trained engineers. The world and its needs have changed over the years, and the educational experience must keep pace to equip new generations of graduates for this ever-evolving world.

CE: How can the College of Engineering’s alumni and friends get involved with the development office?

Wilson: The bedrock analogy I use for my work as a director of development, is that of an ant colony. Ants, by the thousands, go out each day to search for that grain of sand that can be
used to expand and strengthen the ant hill. Before long, the ant colony’s home base has grown and strengthened. Every alumnus and friend of the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama has a story, an experience and a stake in the College. The work of our engineering alumni and friends must be to know what the new initiatives are, who the new faculty are and how the students are progressing. Yes, making a gift is of crucial importance, but knowing what is happening at the College gives meaning to those gifts. Stay aware, stay informed and stay involved!

CE: What are you looking forward to most working in this position?

Wilson: When my father-in-law taught me to play golf, he started with the pitching and putting of the game. He said that more games are won or lost around or on the green. The object in golf is to get the ball in the cup. In developing resources for the College of Engineering, the donor is the cup, the focus of attention and attainment. I experience my greatest satisfaction in development as I get to know our alumni and friends, engage the min conversation about the College of Engineering and assist them to identify what they want to fund. People’s financial resources usually follow where their hearts move them. I look forward most to engaging alumni and friends and assisting them in giving from their hearts to the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama. Roll Tide!