UA Workshops Introduce Minority Faculty to Engineering

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Science faculty members from historically black colleges and universities nationwide recently visited The University of Alabama campus to attend four-week engineering workshops.

Hosted by Dr. Viola Acoff and Dr. Mark Weaver, both assistant professors of metallurgical and materials engineering in the UA College of Engineering, the summer workshops were designed to introduce participants to materials science and engineering.

The idea for the project was sparked during a national materials science education conference attended by Dr. Dick Bradt, head of the department of metallurgical and materials engineering at UA. Conference attendees alerted Bradt that students and faculty from historically black colleges and universities needed more information about the field of metallurgy and materials science. When Bradt returned from the conference, he recruited Weaver and Acoff to respond to this need.

After successfully presenting a proposal to the National Science Foundation, the team received a grant to support a series of workshops each summer, through 2003.

This year’s participants were from: Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, both in Atlanta, Ga.; Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla.; Hampton University in Yorktown, Va.; Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tenn.; Rust College in Oxford, Miss.; Oakwood College in Huntsville; and Stillman College in Tuscaloosa.

The format of the workshops is patterned after an introductory course in metallurgical and materials engineering, taught to students in UA’s College of Engineering. Workshop attendees study materials science through lectures, laboratory projects and tours of local industries.

“We try to expose them to ideas and examples of the field of materials science that they can then take back and integrate into the coursework for their students,” said Weaver.

The seminar’s goal is to heighten interest in the field of materials science. “We want to make the faculty at these institutions aware of the possibilities that are available, particularly to their students,” Acoff said.

UA may also reap benefits from the workshops, as students are made aware – through their faculty advisors – of the strong metallurgy and materials engineering program available at the undergraduate and graduate level in the College of Engineering.

“It would be nice to see new transfer students and graduate students ultimately choosing The University of Alabama because of this faculty program,” said Weaver.


Kathryn Adams, Engineering Writer, 205/348-3051 Janice Fink, 205/348-6444


Dr. Mark Weaver, 205/348-7073; Dr. Viola Acoff, 205/348-3761