The University of Alabama

UA in the News: May 30, 2012

Alabama, Shelton team wins NASA Lunabotics competition
Tuscaloosa News – May 30
A team of University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College students has won the national NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition. The team, which designed and built a remote-controlled lunar soil excavator called a lunabot, outsmarted more than 50 other teams from universities around the world during the weeklong contest at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Awards for the competition were announced Saturday. “This is a very difficult competition to win because of the rules and the environment,” said Kenneth Ricks, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and the team’s faculty adviser. “Winning the overall prize justifies the quality of engineering education at UA and rewards the students for the hours and hours they put into this.” This was the third year NASA has hosted the competition. Alabama placed sixth in 2010 and fourth in 2011. Each year, the UA students take the knowledge they learned from the previous year’s competition to build a new robot. The objective of the competition is the same — to build robots that aim to excavate lunar-like soil, but the rules and regulations for the robots change each year, Ricks said. NASA uses the competition to generate real ideas about how to mine on the moon, as well as recruit new engineers into the field.
Al.com (video) – May 29
Gadsden Times – May 30
CBS 42 (Birmingham) – May 29
Crimson White – May 30

Bentley awards grant for traffic safety analysis
WSFA-NBC 12 (Montgomery) – May 29
Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded a $75,080 grant to the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety to provide analysis of traffic safety data. The funding enables the center, known as CAPS, to gather information collected from law enforcement agencies and telephone surveys to analyze the effectiveness of the “Click It or Ticket” traffic safety campaign that coincides with Memorial Day. “Evaluating our traffic safety program produces far more than a statistical report,” said Bentley. “The analysis will help improve enforcement and other safety measures that save lives and reduce the number of injuries suffered by Alabama motorists.” In addition to analyzing the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, CAPS collects a wide range of traffic safety statistics that are published in the “Alabama Crash Fact Book.” The center also is helping develop and implement new technologies for officers to use in the field, including an electronic citation program, called “eCite,” and an electronic crash reporting system, “eCrash.” These automated systems save time, allow for more detailed reporting, and eliminate data entry errors caused by difficult-to-read handwriting.  The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from funds made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. ADECA administers an array of programs in law enforcement and traffic safety, economic development, energy conservation, workforce development, water resources and recreation development. Bentley notified Cynthia Hope, director of sponsored programs at the University of Alabama, that the grant had been approved.
WHNT-CBS (Huntsville) – May 29

Indigent defense: Alabama expects to save millions in payments to lawyers
Mobile Press-Register – May 29
Alabama’s new Office of Indigent Defense Services projects it will cut costs in hiring lawyers to represent the poor by $8 million this year and another $15 million the following year after imposing stricter oversight…Talitha Powers Bailey, director of the Capital Defense Law Clinic at the University of Alabama, said that despite some instances of abuse in the appointment system, there are serious concerns with contracts, particularly in more populous circuits. In Mobile County, each judge handles 2,000 criminal cases every year, according to court officials. Bailey acknowledged that a contract system does save money. But she said, “Each case demands as assessment of what is required for a vigorous, constitutional defense…. The state of Alabama’s job is to provide competent legal counsel to defendants, and the cost of that should not be the first concern.”

Students complete three weeks of service in Marion
Crimson White – May 30
Thirty University of Alabama students spent May 7-25 in Marion, Ala., carrying out projects aimed to help the small Black Belt community. “[Community members] seemed really happy to be able to partner with the University Fellows Experience,” said Brianna Adams, a sophomore majoring in English who worked on a public relations project. “I think it’s a win-win…they expressed what a benefit it was for them when we come into the community because we provided fresh energy, new ideas and new perspectives.” From incorporating exercise into classroom curriculums with the Exergaming Initiative to encouraging Perry County’s economic development with the Economic Development Project of Alabama, the freshmen from the University Fellows Experience spent their first year at UA developing these ideas and also spent three weeks working hands-on in the community. The projects are created through a three-hour seminar the students take in the spring. During that time, community members from Marion visit the class to discuss the biggest issues facing the area. Students also visit Marion on the weekends to meet with other organizations about their ideas. “It was a multi-step brainstorming process as a whole class where we took up a huge chunk of a three-hour seminar learning about the community,” said Jason Arterburn, a sophomore majoring in Spanish and economics who worked on the ACT prep project and the Exergaming Initiative. “It was a rigorous process of making sure the projects specifically met the needs of the community. The main goal isn’t about us being a savior or us doing cool things, it’s about targeting specific needs in the community with the resources, both intellectual and monetary, that we have to help Marion.”

Engineering conference held at UA
Crimson White – May 30
The 53rd biennial International Field Emissions Symposium, held in Tuscaloosa from May 20 to 25, hosted over 180 professionals from 12 countries in a conference detailing and discussing new strides being made in the atomic sciences. Traditionally held every two years in different parts of the world, its previous hosts include Sydney, Australia and Rouen, France. The 2014 IFES will be held at the University of Münster in Münster, Germany. Tuscaloosa cemented its place beside these international cities through the efforts of Gregory Thompson and Mark Weaver, professors of metallurgical and materials engineering, and Rich Martens, manager of the Central Analytical Facility at UA. The bid was first received in 2010, and with help from the College of Engineering staff and the Central Analytical Facility, the IFES came to the Bryant Conference Center. “It was a huge success,” Thompson said. “One of the best [conferences] I’ve ever been to.” Throughout the week, many lectures and discussions were held at the University. The IFES committee held its business meeting, where the future and direction of the organization were decided, at the conference, as well. The most important part of the conference, however, was its collaborative aspects. “It’s all about the scientists having access to equipment that they might not ­normally have access to,” Martens said.

UA professor’s book named bestseller
Crimson White – May 30
The American Educational Research Association named “Leaders in the Historical Study of American Education” by Wayne Urban, a University of Alabama professor and associate director of the educational policy center, a bestseller. Urban’s book is composed of 26 autobiographies written by historical leaders in the field of American education. It focuses on how these individuals came to work in their scholastic professions. In Urban’s case, his journey into education was purely accidental. “I went down to Ohio State to study history and got a job at the residence hall,” Urban said. “In order to work at the residence hall, I had to take some education courses. I took them and wound up in history of education.”…“Leaders in the Historical Study of American Education” took Urban two years to complete and was written for the 50th anniversary of the History of Education Society. His book is third in a series edited by Leonard Waks, a retired professor from Temple University, who focuses on theorists of curriculum and philosophy.

UA hosts opera workshop (Print edition only)
Crimson White – May 30
The third annual Druid City Opera Workshop, hosted by the University of Alabama School of Music, will conclude today with a final performance. The workshop focuses on intensive opera training for young artists and performance opportunities for singers, pianists and directors. “The voice faculty, particularly Dr. Susan Fleming, wanted a summer program because a lot of other schools have them,” artistic director Paul Houghtaling said. “I’ve sung and taught in other programs around the country for this program, and for this program, we wanted to focus on the experience.

 

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