City of Champions

Over the past 13 years, Tuscaloosa has grown exponentially with an increasing student population and new businesses locating within the city limits. Camgian, a Starkville, Mississippi-based company, opened its Center…

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In This Issue

City of Champions

Camgian and UA creating new AI technologies and jobs in Tuscaloosa

Established in Alabama, Serving the Nation

UA grad founds company, watches it grow with city

Alabama IMaDE Manufactures Workforce

UA collaborates with industry to lead the way in creating a job-ready workforce


Noteworthy News and Research


Stats from the College of Engineering


Events from Around the College


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


UA Launches $1.5 Billion Capital Campaign

The University of Alabama launched the largest fundraising campaign in state history to raise a minimum of $1.5 billion in private donations to support all areas of campus — from…

UA Contributing Solutions to Wastewater Treatment in Rural Alabama

Engineering researchers at The University of Alabama are part of a prestigious project to demonstrate effective solutions to raw sewage draining into the waterways of the state’s Black Belt region

UA-Led Study of Southeastern Groundwater Assists Water Management

The University of Alabama is leading a 4-year, $6 million project to conduct groundwater research that will provide new scientific insights and make useful groundwater water predictions for the Southeast.

UA Researchers Provide U.S. Drought Vulnerability Rankings

According to UA research, drought vulnerability comes from a combination of how susceptible a state is to drought and whether it’s prepared for impacts. The most and least vulnerable states…

Predicting Plant Water Needs in a Warmer, Drier World

UA-involved study shows dry air drives overlooked changes in how plants drink and breathe.

Four Projects Receive Funding from UA CyberSeed Program

Four promising research projects received funding from The University of Alabama CyberSeed program, the UA Office for Research and Economic Development announced.


Most Events Go Virtual for The Fall, Alumnus Visits

During the fall 2020 semester, most all meetings and events happened virtually through video conferencing. All incoming students were invited to attend two introductory meetings hosted by Mentor UPP and…


Drive to Succeed at Home and Abroad

Austin Pearson did not speak German when he came to The University of Alabama, but now has lived, learned and worked as an engineering student and intern in Germany as…

Student Receives Top Award from the Society of Women Engineers

The senior majoring in chemical engineering was honored in November by the organization, which has more than 40,000 members globally.

Robotics Contest Awardee Returns to UA 9 Years Later as a Freshman

In 2011, third grader Mary Virginia McKinley competed in UA’s first-ever robotics competition. Now she is studying computer science.


Distinguished UA Engineering Professor Honored with Burnum Award

Awarded annually to recognize and promote excellence in research, scholarship and teaching, the Burnum Award recognizes distinguished careers at UA.

UA Engineering Faculty Member Awarded a 2020 Early-Career Research Fellowship

National Academies’ Gulf Research Program has named a University of Alabama engineering faculty member one of the 20 recipients of their 2020 Early-Career Research Fellowship. Dr. Hamed Moftakhari, an assistant…

Four Professors Receive Early Career Research Awards

Over the summer, four professors at The University of Alabama received national recognition early in their careers for innovative research that will increase understanding of our world while boosting UA’s…

UA Aerospace Engineering Professor Named ASC Fellow

A University of Alabama aerospace engineering faculty member has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Composites for the first time in its history. Through his research and…


20th Annual CES Golf Tournament Raises More Than $40,000

The 20th Annual Capstone Engineering Society Golf Tournament was held Nov. 16, 2020, at Old Overton Country Club in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Thanks to the generous contributions from sponsors, supporters…



photo of DR. MARK S. WHORTON


BSAE, MSAE ’89, joined the Georgia Tech Research Institute as chief technology officer on June 22 in Atlanta. GTRI is the applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology.




BSME, has been promoted to executive vice president for the defense sector at Radiance Technologies in Huntsville. He joined Radiance, an employee-owned small business prime contractor, in October 2004.




(Photo courtesy of Intercontinental Exchange)

BSChE, has joined Pfizer as a manager of process engineering, gene therapy in Sanford, North Carolina.



BSChE, MSChE ’13, PhD ’16, has been named the Paula & Jim Henry Chair of Engineering at Midland College in Midland, Texas. He has been at Midland since August 2016. He is the department chair and an assistant professor.




MSCE, is the 2020 Jefferson Fordham recipient of the Up & Comers Award given by the American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law. On Jan. 19, 2021, he joined Microsoft as the business program manager, Airband Initiative.




Drummond Co logo


Dynetics logo



McAbee Construction, Inc. logo
ICS Cyber Management logo
VIC logo
Neptune logo
American logo
HPM Logo
Bama Concrete logo
Brasfield and Gorrie logo


BL Harbert logo


Jim House and Associates, Inc. logo
Dunn Construction logo
Vulcan Painters logo
Volkert logo
Bernhard logo
LBYD logo
Vulcan logo
C and B Piping logo
Morell logo
Schoel logo
Nucor logo
Wade Sand and Gravel logo
McGiffert and Associates logo


Cahaba Water Solutions logo
SAIIA logo
Barnett Jones Wilson logo

In Memory

Dr. Robert F. “Bob” Barfield Sr. died Oct. 19, 2020, in Tuscaloosa. He was 87. Barfield received his doctorate in engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was the dean of The University of Alabama College of Engineering and also served in the Marine Corps. Barfield was a fan of UA football and the Astros and Braves Major League Baseball teams. He was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church. The UA College of Engineering has an endowed professorship in mechanical engineering in his honor.

Dr. Samuel C. Gambrell Jr. died Oct. 31, 2020, in Tuscaloosa. He was 85. Born in Owings, South Carolina, Gambrell graduated from Clemson University with an engineering bachelor’s degree in 1957 and master’s degree in 1961. He was a pitcher on the baseball team and a member of several honor societies. Gambrell was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served on active duty in the Air Defense Artillery Branch from 1957-1959. After 30 years of service in the South Carolina Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserves, he retired as a colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. Gambrell earned a doctorate in theoretical and applied mechanics from West Virginia University in 1965. At The University of Alabama, he served as assistant dean of engineering for research and graduate studies and director of the Engineering Placement Bureau. Gambrell retired in 1996 as professor emeritus of engineering mechanics and was later named an Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Distinguished Fellow. He completed research contracts with NASA for six years and spent two summers working at Marshall Space Flight Center. The Society for Experimental Mechanics gave him the F. Zandman Award in 1994 and 1997 because of his research on stress analysis of shuttle components. The Alabama Society of Professional Engineers named him Professional Engineer of the Year in 1990 and ASPE Professional Engineer of the Year in Education in 1991. Gambrell served as vice president of the ASPE Central region for one term, and he was president of the Southeastern section of the American Society for Engineering Education in 1982-83. Gambrell was registered as a professional engineer in Alabama. He was active in his church and community serving on several committees, clubs and societies.

Harry Hill Holliman died July 7, 2020, in Kingsport, Tennessee. He was 78. He studied chemical engineering at The University of Alabama and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1963 and a master’s degree in 1966. From 1963-1965, he served in the U.S. Army as a chemical officer. Holliman took a job as a chemical engineer at Eastman Chemical Company in 1966 and worked in several positions before retiring in 1999 as president of the Tennessee Eastman Division. He was named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow of the UA College of Engineering in 1988. In 1999, Holliman was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.

Sanjeev Lahoti died Oct. 26, 2020, in Yamhill, Oregon. He was 56. Born in Mumbai, India, he graduated from Amravati University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Lahoti later graduated with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from The University of Alabama, and he earned an MBA in marketing from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. In 2002, he started the company Virasa Technologies in Houston, and five years later, he and his wife Angela Summers, Ph.D. ’93, established Saffron Fields Vineyards in Oregon. Also in 2007, the couple created the Irvin A. Jefcoat Endowed Scholarship to support UA chemical and biological engineering students.

Dr. Odis Pelham McDuff died Feb. 7, 2020, in Tuscaloosa. He was 88. Born in Pickens County, he graduated top of his class in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The University of Alabama. McDuff later graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master’s degree in electrical engineering and Stanford University with a doctorate. His research was on lasers. McDuff worked as the department head of UA’s electrical engineering department and received UA’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award twice. He also served as a first lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

Dr. Thomas “Wayne” Merritt Jr. died Oct. 5, 2020, in Auburn. He was 77. Born in Columbus, Georgia, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1966 and a master’s degree in zoology in 1968 from Auburn University. After graduating, he joined Officer Candidate School and began pilot training in the U.S. Air Force. Merritt was assigned to the Strategic Air Command flying B-52 Stratofortresses after completing pilot training in 1970 in Valdosta, Georgia. He spent time in California and Michigan and flew combat missions over North Vietnam, Thailand and Guam. Merritt was promoted to captain and later aircraft commander. He was bestowed many awards and medals during his military career. In 1973, Merritt was assigned to the ROTC program at Auburn. He resigned his commission in 1977. Merritt then earned a doctorate in industrial engineering with a focus on ergonomics in 1987. In 1988, he was hired at The University of Alabama as a professor of industrial engineering and statistical methods. While working at UA, Merritt was also an independent consultant. He helped businesses examine workflow and redesign workspaces to diminish injuries from strain and stress. Merritt retired in 2007 and eventually returned to the Auburn area.

End User

Photo of Lisa Nicole Smith

Lisa Nicole Smith joined the College of Engineering in January 2021 as the new Multicultural Engineering Program director and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion manager. The MEP director collaborates with students, faculty and staff across the College and University to design, implement and assess a comprehensive program with focused recruitment, retention and completion strategies for diverse students. Learn more about Smith and her position in this Q&A.

CE: What are your first priorities as MEP director?

Smith: As I begin this awesome journey as the director of the Multicultural Engineering Program, one of my main priorities is building relationships. There are a number of entities that could assist the College of Engineering as we begin to build the foundation to recruit, retain and graduate new diverse students; a large part of my job is to help build and manage those relationships as they would cause UA to benefit from those opportunities.

CE: Why is having an MEP director important for the College?

Smith: I believe that this position is important for the College of Engineering for many reasons; namely, the deliberate and intentional effort to recruit and retain diverse students and assist in the diversification of the profession of engineering. Unfortunately, in higher education, diversity is not yet an organic occurrence. Leaders must be diligent to create paths for inclusion and access so that students, particularly diverse students, know that even at a place that is as well-known and respected as the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama, they, too, are welcome.

CE: How will the work of this program benefit the College?

Smith: A major part about understanding the significance of diversity and the importance of there being multicultural student experiences within our historic educational system is knowing that this service benefits everyone. The student body is better having the opportunities to learn from and live among people with different backgrounds and cultures. The faculty and staff are enlightened as they interact with diverse students and learn different methods of connecting with students.

CE: How can you make a difference in the College through this position?

Smith: I intend to make a difference by reminding our community of the many opportunities that are available and accessible for all. The position of director for the MEP is not a new position for the College of Engineering, but it is one where the focus of targeted populations became slightly out of focus. My aim is to bring those targeted populations back into view while serving as a liaison, advocate and recruiter for them.

CE: Why did you apply for this position?

Smith: I applied for this position because it is an excellent opportunity to use my background of recruiting highly desired, academically strong college-bound diverse students. The College of Engineering at The University of Alabama has a tradition of graduating the best of the best diverse students. I am just here to serve and help further that tradition.

CE: What kind of support will you need from the UA engineering community?

Smith: I would say that it would help that our community understand that we are in the process of building. This would require all of us to understand that things are changing, developing and growing. There are new ideas for creating new things and there will be many things that leadership might allow us to try. I ask for patience as we create the formula that works for who we are and what we would like to ultimately do.

CE: What are you looking forward to most working in this position at UA?
Smith: I am looking forward to creating new programming and opportunities for students.