UA In the News: July 7-9, 2012
July 9, 2012 - Filed under: UA in the News
UA ‘triage teams’ vet research for possible profits
Birmingham News – July 8
Dan Daly looks for the cream of the crop when he hunts for students to join his University of Alabama “triage teams.” Students who not only excel in studies, but also have that spark, that oomph, that sine qua non that may one day transform them into entrepreneurs. Triage is the brainstorm that Daly brought to the Capstone after working in industry as a chemist, where he headed small teams of researchers developing new products. His own success was featured in national “Rock the Boat” print ads by Texaco for his Clean System3 gasoline. But as he worked, Daly saw a flaw in many of his fellow chemists. When they tried to pitch their ideas to customers, “what surprised me was how poorly these guys from chemistry performed. … I was amazed, these guys were so bright.” So Daly decided to try a different kind of chemistry at the University of Alabama. He would meld teams of students from different disciplines and throw them into the real-world crucible of evaluating discoveries made by faculty researchers. Student teams would be the first to assess ideas that researchers submitted to the Office for Technology Transfer for possible patent applications and marketing…Since 2006, about 20 teams have evaluated more than 100 potential ideas. “After they do it three or four times, they get really good,” he said. Their reports are useful prep work for the university’s Intellectual Property Council. But Daly’s real goal is a different kind of alchemy — nudging students toward the creative “Aha!” moment that will turn them into future entrepreneurs. He has seen it happen in people like Ph.D. chemist/MBA graduate Whitney Hough, or MBA grad Curt Peinhardt. “Some will say, ‘Ah! Now I can start my own company!’” said Daly, who is director of the university’s Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs (AIME) program. “They write a small business innovation research grant, and get non-dilutable funding from NSF (National Science Foundation).” A typical triage team includes an undergraduate honors student, an MBA marketing student, a law student and a graduate student from engineering or chemistry. They all sign non-disclosure agreements, and then are given a discovery to evaluate.
Science grants to benefit University of Alabama’s research projects
Tuscaloosa News – July 8
With more than $1.6 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, three University of Alabama instructors will study earthquake seismology and advance nanotechnology to improve MRIs and solar energy collection. The five-year project grants are known as CAREER grants, because they’re awarded to boost researchers who are still on the path to achieve tenure. “It says it in the name: It kind of helps jump-start your career,” said Samantha Hansen, an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Services, who will take teams to Antarctica with her $715,000 grant. “When you’re new on faculty and you come into the job without a lot of resources, it’s a nice way to get your research off the ground.” Hansen, who’s been to Antarctica twice before on a post-doctoral fellowship at Penn State, notes any substantial research comes with a high price: flights, gear, food and other support for the three trips to Antarctica chief among them. Through NSF’s Polartrec program, her team also will include a high-school teacher from Michigan who’ll communicate with students back home on research. NSF proposals require outreach, so in addition to grad students Hansen’s funding, she’s developing a three-week summer field program for younger students, trying to get them hooked on earth science; the second week will include field research in Yellowstone, which is analagous to but substantially more cost-effective than another trip to Antarctica.
CBS 42 (Birmingham) – July 6
UA dance camp attracts more than 130 students
Tuscaloosa News – July 9
Dozens of drums beat to a rapid rhythm while teenagers danced in the center of the circle, jumping to the beat. More than 100 teenagers participated in a drum circle in the Blount Dorms on Sunday afternoon as part of the American Ballet Theatre summer intensive camp at the University of Alabama. The session is part of a three-week dance camp with more than 130 students. Participants come from all over the U.S. along with some international students, said Rhea Speights, site coordinator for the camp. The intensive camp focuses mainly on ballet, although the students, who range in age from 11 to 16, also can take supplemental classes in jazz, Pilates and acting. The drum circle, which was led by Birmingham-based John Scalici of Get Rhythm, was a fun activity to give the students some recreation outside of dancing, Speights said. Drumming can be especially effective in getting teenagers to loosen up, Scalici said. “This group is afraid to make mistakes,” Scalici said, adding that they are used to classes where they need to be precise. “But this is about having some fun, and getting them fresh for the last leg of the camp.”
UA economists lower forecast for 2012, but see accelerating improvement in 2013
Birmingham News – July 9
Citing “tepid” growth in employment and dangers associated with the European debt crisis, economists at the University of Alabama this morning lowered their forecast for Alabama’s economy for the remainder of the year. Economists with UA’s Center for Business and Economic Research lowered their forecast for growth in gross domestic product from 2.5 percent to 2 percent. The announcement last week that Airbus plans to open an assembly plant in Mobile and expansions already underway at the state’s auto plants should contribute to an economic rebound over the next several years, CBER economists said in a report. But state government has eliminated 7,200 jobs over the last year and local governments have 2,100 jobs. Another 4,700 jobs have been cut in education. “The government sector has been hit hardest,” CBER said in a prepared statement. The picture is expected to improve in 2013, when nonfarm employment is forecast to increase 1.5 percent.
Chamber to use regional effort to drive tourism
Alexander City Outlook – July 6
Tourism will grow by leaps and bounds during the next three years – at least, that’s the goal of the East Central Alabama Tourism Initiative. The work-in-progress group has been slowly gaining speed since the beginning of the year and comprises Tallapoosa and six other counties – Talladega, Chambers, Coosa, Randolph, Cleburne and Clay…“The places that have the most success are the ones that are combining resources,” said Nisa Miranda. Miranda is the Director of the University Center for Economic Development at The University of Alabama and is contracted to work with the counties to develop the association through each step of the process – identifying stakeholders, inventorying each counties assets, branding and creating marketing tools. “There’s a lot of organization that needs to take place,” Miranda said. “You’ve got to engage the restaurants, the hotels, all the different entities that are going to play a role.” Miranda said marketing the counties as a region will allow each county to draw on the strengths of another. “You’re creating a very strong magnet: you’re raising the profile of all the individual places … (and) the profile of all those areas combined,” Miranda said. “What that (cooperation) leads to is not only better programming and marketing of that programming, but better treatment, better support for the visitor coming in.”
Alabama, Auburn football programs cash cow for state, with estimated $500 million annual economic impact
Huntsville Times – July 8
Have you ever looked at the crimson and white of Alabama football or the orange and blue of Auburn football and seen green? Not green with envy, necessarily, but green as in dollars? Lots and lots of dollars? Even if the Heart of Dixie takes a deep-rooted pride in being a deeply divided state when it comes to football allegiances, one symbol can unite the masses: $$$ And when it comes to college football in Alabama, it’s a lot of $$$. One state economist estimated the economic impact of football at Auburn University and the University of Alabama as high as $500 million annually. Alabama may rank among the least prosperous states nationally. But when it comes to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium or Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, the state has its own little Wall Street.
CBS 8 (Montgomery) – July 7
Federal program lets police agencies add equipment and vehicles at low cost
Anniston Star – July 6
More than a decade ago, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office hit on an obscure federal program that promised to save it a fortune on equipment…Guns, night vision goggles, combat boots, helmets, sleeping bags, tents, computer equipment, five Humvees, two armored personnel carriers and a high-powered boat: It’s just a small taste of the cache of equipment the Sheriff’s Office has been able to collect through the Department of Defense’s Excess Property Program, commonly called the 1033 Program among law enforcement agencies…But when it comes to using excessive military gear, not everyone thinks it’s a great idea for small law enforcement agencies to have access to high-powered weapons and armored vehicles. Mark Lanier, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama, said while 1033 provides great economic benefit to a lot of agencies, the image of “community policing,” including bicycle patrols and local activism, could be eroded by the militarization of small police departments. “You see those pictures of LAPD driving down streets in armored tanks,” Lanier said. “That’s really not the modern-day image police departments want to promote.”
Church organs stay in tune with tradition
The Tennessean – July 8
…traditional church music is here to stay in Middle Tennessee. The region is home to a thriving chapter of the American Guild of Organists, which has more than 200 local members. That local chapter recently hosted the guild’s biannual convention, which brought more than 1,500 organists to town for workshops and concerts this past week. Among convention-goers were Faythe Freese, an organ professor at the University of Alabama, and Christopher Henley, organist at First Methodist Church in Pell City, Ala….While places such as Nashville are awash with church musicians and it is hard to find a job, that’s not the case in other parts of the country, Freese said. Freese said there’s still plenty of room for young organists, especially at smaller congregations that want traditional music but can’t afford a full-time organist. “It’s a tough business, but not an impossible one,” she said. “There are jobs out there in churches — if they haven’t gone praise band. A lot of them can’t find organists. It can be pretty tough to keep a bench filled.”
EDITORIAL: Rose Towers a symbol of a bygone era at UA
Tuscaloosa News – July 9
With the thunder of charges set off in quick succession, Rose Towers sagged in the middle and then collapsed in an enormous pile of dust. The pieces that remained were surprisingly small. There was no argument about the fate of a building that was little more than a functional box for students to live in. No preservationists threatened to chain themselves to the door. Rose Towers had served its purpose, and it was time for another building to take its place. It is interesting that one of the emblems of growth and progress from another era had to be removed to make room for the progress of another era…The high-rises turned out not to be the wave of the future, at least not here. Even buildings 12 and 13 stories high could not contain the growth that came to the University of Alabama. Verging on an eyesore, Rose Towers’ time had come and gone. The era that spawned it has passed and so has its useful life. But 43 years after Rose Towers first opened, the growth continues.
GUEST COLUMN: Youth should learn from the wisdom of age
Tuscaloosa News – July 7
Getting old is not a choice. I suspect all of us past a certain age would choose to do so, rather than the obvious alternative. Youngsters (those under 50) really don’t think about it very much. Those in their 90s are grateful they can move. Some, like Pablo Picasso, I once read, stayed active into his 90s, painting away his crazy doodles that passed for art several generations ago. I want to be like Picasso. Not a painter — I gave that up a few years ago when I showed a good friend of mine, who is now gone — Richard Brough, a professor and painter in the Department of Art at the University of Alabama — some sketches. “Ah, Larry, we are good friends right?,” Dick said, by way of prelude. I think I knew what was coming. “Yeah, Dick, so what do you think of my sketches?” “Keep on drawing Larry. You love to do it. Want some more coffee?” he offered, “or maybe a glass of wine?” Dick was a wise person. He didn’t acquire wisdom from his paint brushes. He acquired it from traveling to many parts of the world, painting, listening, taking it all in, experiencing the world with its many blessings and its many hurts. His paintings, I suspect, grew in feeling and depth over time. (Larry Clayton is a professor of history at the University of Alabama).
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.