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The University of Alabama

UA in the News: October 4, 2012

Ex-Daimler executive joins UA faculty
Tuscaloosa News – Oct. 4
A top Daimler AG executive who headed the research and development of the German company’s automotive group until his recent retirement has joined the faculty of the University of Alabama’s College of Engineering in a move seen as bolstering UA’s ties to the growing automotive industry in the Southeast. Bharat Balasubramanian, who was vice president of group research and advanced engineering responsible for product innovations and process technologies for Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand, was named an engineering professor in the mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering departments.  He also was named executive director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies, a cross-discipline research center focused on automotive innovation. Balasubramanian said he wants to strengthen relationships with industry so research and development will benefit. He said he also hopes to use his experience at Daimler to prepare students to work for the auto industry in Alabama and the Southeast. “Nearly every foreign automotive company has a presence in the Southeast,” he said in a statement. “We not only want to make students better prepared to work for them, but that they are so well-trained those companies won’t look at other universities before they look at the University of Alabama.” Charles L. Karr, dean of the engineering college, said having Balasubramanian on the faculty would benefit UA and the state.

Alabama awards $4 million for 15 higher education R&D projects – Oct. 3
Fifteen research, innovation and job creation projects at Alabama universities won a collective $4 million in funding from Gov. Robert Bentley’s Alabama Innovation Fund. The projects — announced this morning by at the Economic Development Parternship of Alabama’s second annual Innovation and Development Conference at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover — is the first round of state-funded grants to support research and economic development. The projects winning money from the state’s Education Trust Fund’s budget were chosen based on the likelihood of successful commercialization, further research and job creation…Richard P. Swatloski, the University of Alabama (UA), Alabama Start-up Seed Fund Program, $125,792 (Renewal Program Funding)…Allen Parrish, UA, 10-8CAD (Public safety technology, computer-aided dispatch), $206,326 (Research Program Funding)…Robin D. Rogers, UA, A General Approach to 2D Nanomaterial, $160,487 (Research Program Funding)…Gregory Thompson, UA, Partnering with Nucor Steel in Development Microalloyed Precipitation Strengthened Steels, $74,332 (Research Program Funding)

School gardens provides hands on learning at University Place
Tuscaloosa News – Oct. 4
University Place Elementary School has two gardens and both sites provide a valuable learning tool for elementary and college students alike. “I’d like to say that all of the students, regardless of their previous experience with gardening, or hot, sweaty labor of any kind, have found something that surprised them and inspired them in the garden.” said UA instructor Samuel Gray, who teaches an organic farming class. Located in Tuscaloosa’s Forest Lake neighborhood, the University Place Garden is the brainchild of the Druid City Garden Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to incorporating gardening and fresh produce into school curriculum. The 2,500-square-foot garden grows fresh herbs, like parsley and basil, along with seasonal produce, like beets and lettuce, with the help of elementary school students, University of Alabama students and volunteers. After the April 27, 2011, tornado, the University Place Elementary students were relocated to Stillman Heights Elementary, where they continue their gardening lessons using seven raised beds installed by the Druid City Garden Project. Meanwhile, Lindsay Turner, executive director of the project, said the students’ garden in Forest Lake remains as beautiful as ever, thanks volunteers and UA classes. “The area got hit hard by the April 2011 storm, so after the storms our dedicated volunteers were out there replanting the garden three days later,” Turner said. “So it’s beautiful and flourishing out there.”

UA professor represents U.S. at international workshop
Tuscaloosa News – Oct. 4
A University of Alabama professor will travel to Australia in December to attend an international engineering workshop. Dr. Wei Song, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, was invited to attend the sixth International Workshop on Structural Control and Monitoring as a member of the U.S. delegation. The purpose of the workshop, which is held every four years, is to plan future research directions in the structural control and monitoring field. This year’s panel will be organized by the Centre for Built Infrastructure Research, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Technology in Syndey…His research focuses on structural condition assessment, advanced experimental technique, cyber-physical system design promoting community resilience and optimal control design for nonlinear stochastic systems.

Annual conference focuses on recreational trails
Tuscaloosa News – Oct. 3
Recreational trails will be the focus during a two-day conference at Jacksonville State University. Sponsored by the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, Alabama Trails Commission and Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, “Dream, Plan, Build” is the second annual conference highlighting recreational trails in Alabama. The conference will be held Nov. 1 and 2 at the Huston Cole Library on the Jacksonville campus. The two-day event will feature the state’s top trail planners, designers and builders who will discuss the evolution of Alabama’s recreational trails and methods for making the state a top destination for trail enthusiasts.

Tillotson among Hall of Fame inductees
Galveston County Daily News (Texas) – Oct. 4
Former Daily News Publisher Dolph Tillotson will be inducted into the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences Communication Hall of Fame on Oct. 11. Tillotson, born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Ala., got his long journalism career off to a remarkable start at Northington Elementary and Eastwood Junior High School, founding papers at both schools. During his freshman year at UA, Tillotson was political editor at The Crimson White, but in June of 1969, at the age of 19, Tillotson went to work full-time at The Tuscaloosa News, attending UA classes when not covering the campus unrest over Kent State, the political revolution in Greene County and the myriad other events of those turbulent years. With the mentorship and trust of James Boone, Tillotson became city editor of the News in 1972, general manager of the Natchez Democrat in 1973 and, after a five-year stint as the publisher of the Oskaloosa (Iowa) Herald from 1975-80, Tillotson was appointed president of Boone Newspapers. He was 30. From 1981-87, he also served as publisher of the Natchez Democrat, and in 1984, the Democrat was named one of the 12 best small newspapers in America by the magazine of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. From 1987-2011 Tillotson was president and publisher of The Galveston County Daily News and vice president of Southern Newspapers Inc. Retired from The Daily News, Tillotson is now executive vice president of Southern Newspapers of Houston. Under his leadership, The Daily News was five times named best newspaper of its size in the U.S. by the National Newspaper Association and received many top awards from the Texas Press Association, Texas Daily Newspaper Association and Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.

The PhD Project announces 2012 Inductees into Hall of Fame
WFMJ-NBC (Youngstown, OH) – Oct. 4
The PhD Project, a program to increase diversity in management, announced the 2012 inductees into its PhD Project Hall of Fame…Dr. Thomas J. Lopez, Professor and Steven Ross-Hugh Culverhouse Chair of Accountancy, University of Alabama…A new class of inductees is selected annually, with supporters of The PhD Project and the public invited to submit nominations for each year’s class. The PhD Project established the Hall of Fame in 2011 to recognize a select few who have inspired many.

TRACKING TRENDS : In new approach to algebra, computers take over teaching
Community College Week – Oct. 1
Of the 1,041 UT-Arlington students who took college algebra in the spring 2011 semester, only about 47 percent earned a C or higher…Seeking to improve the situation, UT-Arlington officials decided to take an approach that is becoming increasingly common throughout the country: letting computers do the teaching. In August, the university opened its “math emporium,” a 5,800-square-foot space where algebra students will spend two-thirds of their class time working on desktop computers at their own pace rather than sitting through traditional lectures…The concept was first developed in 1997, when Robert Olin, then the chairman of the math department at Virginia Tech, faced a perfect storm of budget cuts and growing enrollment. His idea also appeared to improve the students’ success. Olin, who is now dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama, says a chief benefit of the emporium model is that students are forced to work out problems themselves and can receive instant, individualized feedback from teachers who are available in the lab. “Teaching math is like golf or football,” Olin said. “You can look at Tiger Woods or Arnold Palmer all you want, but you’re not going to learn how to golf unless you go out on a course and start swinging.”


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.