UA Engineering and Southern Company Partner to Increase Minority Engineers

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama College of Engineering, ranked 12th nationally in the percentage of undergraduate engineering degrees awarded to African Americans, is expanding its Minority Engineering Program thanks to the help of the Southern Company

A five-year commitment from the Southern Company, the nation’s largest producer of electricity, will expand and enrich the College’s Minority Engineering Program through the establishment of the Southern Company Minority Engineering Program Coordinator position within the College.

“We are committed to assisting minority students in their pursuit of a career in engineering,” said George Hairston, president and CEO of Southern Nuclear Operating Co., a subsidiary of Southern Company and the operator of three nuclear power plants. “By providing this opportunity, we know we can make a positive contribution to the engineering profession.”

“We are extremely pleased with the Southern Company’s commitment and are confident that the establishment of the Southern Company Minority Engineering Program Coordinator position will increase the number of qualified minorities who enter, and most importantly, graduate from our College,” said Dr. Timothy J. Greene, dean of the UA College of Engineering.

“We will expand our efforts to attract and retain excellent minority students, which have traditionally been underrepresented in the engineering profession,” Greene said. “The Southern Company’s support will greatly assist us in our continued efforts to demonstrate excellence and leadership in engineering education.”

Through the efforts of the Southern Company Minority Engineering Program Coordinator, the UA College of Engineering will expand junior high and high school programs designed to prepare and attract qualified minorities into the engineering and computer science professions.

It is critical that students begin to consider and prepare for a career in engineering early in junior high school and high school, Greene said.

In addition to working with junior high and high school students, the minority program coordinator will work to maximize the retention and graduation rates of minority students currently enrolled within the College and will give cultural and career guidance support for minority students. In addition, the coordinator will develop and coordinate mentoring, networking, and tutoring programs intended to maximize minority student graduation rates.

Currently, 18 percent of The University of Alabama College of Engineering’s undergraduate population are minorities (African American, Hispanic, and Native American), and, according to the 1998 Engineering Workforce Commission report, the University is ranked 12th nationally in the percentage of undergraduate engineering degrees (13 percent) awarded to African Americans.

In comparison with other non-historically black colleges and universities, only Kettering and City College of New York were listed as awarding a higher percentage of undergraduate engineering degrees to African-Americans in 1998 than did UA.

As a founding member of the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (SECME) since 1976, and as a member of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering Science, Inc. (GEM), UA’s College of Engineering has demonstrated a long-term commitment to improving education opportunities for minorities in the engineering profession.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became the first university in the state to offer engineering classes and was one of the first five in the nation to do so. Today, the College of Engineering has about 1,800 students and more than 90 faculty. It has been fully accredited since accreditation standards were implemented in the 1930s.


Chris Bryant, Assistant Director of Media Relations, 205/348-8323


Dr. Timothy J. Greene, 205/348-6405 Michael Jones, Southern Company, 205/992-5780 Greg Singleton, director of engineering student services, 205/348-1596