UAH News

UAH News

UAH Office of Career Services, AAUW to host $tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshop


The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Office of Career Services, in partnership with The American Association of University Women (AAUW) are co-sponsoring a $tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshop on Thursday, June 15.

The four-hour workshop, from 8:30 a.m., to 12:30 p.m., in the UAH Student Services Building room 201, is free and open to all women faculty, staff, students and alumni. To register, please log into Charger Path to RSVP attendance. Faculty and staff please send an e-mail to Career Services ( to RSVP your attendance.

“The UAH/AAUW workshop will teach women how to determine what employers are paying for jobs after graduation and how to negotiate for equitable wages,” said Candace Phillips, UAH Senior Career Counselor. “In the past, men have attended the workshop, too. $tart$mart is a genuine ‘workshop’. Participants get the nuts-and-bolts, real world information including salary resources. And, at the end of the session, they get an opportunity to apply what they learn in a highly engaging role-playing exercise. We are proud to offer this workshop; our goal is to educate our staff, students and alumni, so that they may be an integral part of the change.”

While research and statistics show more women than men go on to earn undergraduate and graduate academic degrees, females still earn less than men. According to a recent study published by the Economic Policy Institute women make less than men straight out of college, and the gap is getting worse, not better. The study says female graduates make $17.88 an hour on average, while male counterparts earn $20.87.

“Women are viewed differently than their male counterparts when they negotiate their salaries or ask for promotions; many times in a negative way,” said Phillips. “It’s undeniable that we, as a society, have made huge strides in the past 60 years towards pay equity, but we still have a long way to go. We want to help women to effectively navigate these situations and to bridge the wage gap. Awareness is critical.”

The UAH/AAUW $tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshop will be offered in the fall and spring semesters, with the potential for an additional seminar in the summer. For specific information, please contact Candace Phillips at

AAUW is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls.

UAH alumnus Tal Wammen recipient of prestigious Fulbright Grant

orion heat shield

UAH alumnus Tal Wammen ((’16 MS Mechanical Engineering) pictured in front of the Orion Crew Capsule heat shield that flew in space December 2014.

Tal Wammen

Tal Wammen (’16 MS Mechanical Engineering) an alumnus of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) was recently awarded a 2017-2018 Belgian and Luxembourg Fulbright Grant.

The prestigious award will allow Wammen, a post-graduate student to study, research, and lecture in Belgium at the renowned Von Karman Institute (VKI) for Fluid Dynamics.

VKI is a not for profit international, educational and scientific organization for member nations of NATO, specializing in three engineering fields: aeronautics and aerospace, environment and applied fluid dynamics, turbo machinery and propulsion.

“Tal’s application checked all of the boxes for Fulbright. Not only did Tal present an original and highly compelling research project that received effusive praise from the VKI where he will conduct his work in Belgium, but he also demonstrated a strong commitment to Fulbright’s mission of promoting mutual understanding through engagement in the host community. He will be an excellent cultural ambassador for the US and for UAH in Belgium,” said Dr. David S. Johnson, Associate Professor, Director, Global Studies Program and Campus Advisor of the Fulbright Student Program.

While attending UAH, Wammen centered his coursework around fluid dynamics, specifically compressible aerodynamics and high-speed flows.

“I will be at VKI for fluid dynamics research. Specifically, I will be working in the high-speed wind tunnels division testing their hypersonic shock-tube facilities,” Wammen said. “These test facilities produce extremely high flows, some reaching almost 14 times the speed of sound.

“This area of work is similar to what I studied in my master’s program at UAH, so it will be a good experience to see things from an experimental point of view compared to the numerical theory I learned in my coursework,” Wammen said. “I will actually get to validate some numerical programs I developed in one of the classes I took with Dr. Chang-kwon Kang (Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), so that will be really exciting.”

Wammen also took courses from Dr. Jason Cassibry (Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) on compressible aerodynamics and hypersonic flow. Both of these classes really piqued my interest. “I always wanted to pursue an international research project of some kind, so I read more about the Fulbright Program online and approached Dr. David Johnson and began developing a proposal that would allow me to perform research in the field of high-speed aerodynamics in an international setting.”

“It was an honor to serve on the committee which vetted Tal’s application for the Fulbright grant. Tal is a very bright young man and had an outstanding application,” said Dr. Jason Cassiby, Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “One of the unique attributes of this opportunity is the requirement that the application conduct cutting edge research and show evidence of immersing in the local culture. Tal’s combination of hypersonics research at the VKI, and repairing violins under the guidance of a renown Belgian artisan clearly made his application competitive. We are all very proud that he is representing UAH abroad,” Cassibry added.

Wammen completed UAH’s non-thesis program on a part-time basis while working full time at NASA as an experimental facilities engineer. The group he worked with managed various facilities, group laboratories, and test stands at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

A native of rural northwest South Dakota (Reva), Wammen’s family are fifth-generation cattle ranchers, with some portions of the business revolving around hunting and outfitting.

“I owe almost all of my successes through the years to my parents and two brothers,” Wammen said. “Ranching is a very hands-on lifestyle, and it requires a very specific work ethic to be successful. Though it can be difficult, it is extremely rewarding in that it provided me with skills that are not too common in today’s workforce.”

He became a certified pilot nearly five years ago. “Flying is a not only a hobby back home, but it is also used frequently as a utility to check on the well being of cattle and security of our land as our ranch is located in such a remote area. I learned how to fly from my father, who was taught to fly from my grandfather, so aviation has been a family interest for many decades.”

Wammen didn’t plan on a career in engineering until it was nearly time for him to graduate from high school. “I was always interested in math and science in high school, though I never really made plans to go into engineering until I began applying for college my junior year of high school. My parents were very supportive in helping me decide on engineering as a major.”

His senior high school class at Harding County had only 17 other classmates. “It was a very tight-knit community. I attended and graduated from The University of Wyoming (UW) where I obtained a bachelors degree in civil engineering in 2013 before moving to Huntsville.”

While an undergraduate at UW, Wammen participated in a NASA cooperative education program, and was offered a full-time job upon graduating. “During my final co-op term, I contacted Dr. Jeff Evans (Assistant Professor of Engineering) in the mechanical engineering department to discuss possible graduate opportunities, and he provided information as well as multiple facility tours which encouraged me to apply to UAH. I was accepted into the graduate program in the spring of 2013, and when I moved to Huntsville for work I began coursework in the fall.” Evans passed way on May 11, 2014, after a brief illness.

“I had a great experience at UAH,” Wammen said. “Though most graduate programs are more in-depth than undergraduate programs, I felt much more engaged in the coursework at UAH. I had a great relationship with the faculty in the department. I took as many classes as I could from Dr. Cassibry and Dr. Kang, as I very much enjoyed their teaching style and the course material offered.”

Wammen said he has been “blessed” with the opportunities presented to him over the years. “I definitely attribute that to my continued education.” He plans to return to NASA next summer and continue working as a test engineer in the propulsion test laboratory. Wammen will also pursue a doctoral degree in engineering, with hopes of teaching at the collegiate level, either as a full-time professor at a university or possibly an adjunct professor if he continues working with the government.

“Ultimately, I plan to return to the family ranch after I finish my engineering goals,” Wammen said. “It holds a special place in my heart, and I look forward to working alongside my brothers to continue our family’s work.”

Personal mobility phone app suite can help inform physician diagnoses


Dr. Emil Jovanov’s mHealth laboratory at UAH has developed a new suite of phone apps to monitor the physical mobility and stability of older people.

Michael Mercier | UAH

A new suite of phone apps developed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) uses Android smart phones to monitor the physical mobility and stability of older people.

That’s important because research has shown that small changes in the time required and the intensity of common everyday motions can be early indicators of health issues such as stroke or falls.

The applications were developed by Dr. Emil Jovanov, the 2014 Alabama Inventor of the Year, Dr. Aleksandar Milenkovic and doctoral students Mladen Milosevic (now at Philips Research, Boston, Mass.) and Priyanka Madhushri from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UAH.

An Android phone loaded with the software developed at UAH is worn in a chest-level harness. The patented software interfaces use sensors already built into the smart phone to create a device that is a sensor, recorder and communicator of mobility and stability data. All records are sent automatically to the personal medical record of the user on the mHealth server at UAH.

Over time, personalized data points could indicate trends that can inform a physician’s diagnoses and create the opportunity for early intervention. The apps also can track the progress of older people who are taking part in strength, stability and mobility improvement programs.

“We wanted to have something everyone could use in the comfort of their own home,” says Dr. Jovanov, who in 2000 was the first researcher to propose a system to wirelessly integrate sensors on or in bodies and communicate through the Internet for ubiquitous health monitoring. “The data automatically goes to your personal records, so it makes the jobs of nurses easier, and doctors could easily access these records and monitor progress between visits.”

The new software uses as a framework the standardized Centers for Disease Control tests for mobility. The Time Up and Go (TUG) test measures the time it takes for someone to rise from a seated position and walk a measured distance. The 30-second chair stand test measures the number of times a person can rise and be seated in the allotted time, and four-stage balance tests evaluate balance during standing. The application suite supports all tests recommended by the CDC.

The personalized assessment of mobility and stability can inform healthcare workers about a variety of health conditions, including the possibility of future falls.

“The reason we especially want to prevent falls is because in the elderly, a fall often triggers a downward spiral of declining health,” says Dr. Jovanov. Falls in some elderly patients may be due to prescribed drugs that can cause instability, or that interact with other drugs to do so. The monitor could provide early warning and a simple change of the drug might prevent falls.

Development of the apps started five years ago, initially focused on achieving a mobile operation that could perform the TUG test with a higher degree of precision than a human tester.

“Then we discovered that we can also use the app to isolate the phases of the TUG process,” Dr. Jovanov says. “It turns out that some of those unused parameters provide very good assessment of mobility and indicate possible future falls.”

For example, how far a person leans forward when getting up from a seated position is a measurement that directly correlates with the potential for falls. The sTUG app uses the phone worn in the chest harness to monitor angles and angular velocities at the chest.

A personalized model is currently under development by doctoral student Madhushri to assess the forces involved and energy used during the transition. The next generation of the software will allow the personalized assessment of performance versus a personal optimal transition, and will indicate the overall strength and wellness state of the user.

“Now we have a much greater set of parameters that physicians can use in their diagnoses, using height and weight to make a personal model to assess the forces and torques in the hip, knee and ankle during transition from sitting to standing,” says Dr. Jovanov. That allows doctors to assess how smoothly patients are accomplishing basic movements.

“We can run the test at home on the smart phone, and analyze changes to assess possible indications of change of health status,” Dr. Jovanov says.

For example, the monitor can be valuable in flagging the small changes in mobility and stability that research shows immediately follow mini-strokes.

“In the case of strokes, you have changes in both speed and stability,” Dr. Jovanov says. “Very often, a sequence of small strokes signals that a big stroke is coming. If you detect early the effects of the smaller strokes, then the physician may be able to prevent the big stroke.”

UAH researchers collaborated with Huntsville’s Center for Aging and Dr. Karen Frith from UAH’s College of Nursing to test the monitoring device in an elderly population aged 70 to 90-plus. During the successful testing, they found the monitor could play a vital role in a Center for Aging program that educates older adults about how to improve their mobility and stability.

“This device can give you immediate feedback about your progress in the program,” says Dr. Jovanov. “We had test subjects who needed 38 seconds to complete the TUG test at the beginning of the program, and they improved to just 19 seconds.”

Testing led to other developments, including using the data to create a personalized, optimal stand up metric for a given patient’s weight that can be used to measure improvements.

“A computer model shows how much force is needed for the personalized optimum transition and assesses forces in each transition during monitoring, which allows us to see exactly, based on specific transition data, how much force you have and how much progress you have made,” Dr. Jovanov says.

The new apps are either patented or patent pending, and are part of Dr. Jovanov’s mHealth suite of personalized medical monitoring projects, a 16-year endeavor that explores and has patented technology innovations that can improve people’s health and lives.

In addition to the new apps, a smart pill bottle that reminds and records when users take medication and when supply is getting low, a smart water bottle that reminds and records times of hydration, a mobility application for wheelchair-bound patients and enabling technologies for wearable personalized medical monitoring systems are among the products produced by the mHealth laboratory in UAH’s Engineering Building led by Dr. Milenkovic and Dr. Jovanov.

With increasing numbers of aging Baby Boomers and a limited supply of physicians and healthcare workers, the mHealth mobile health monitoring systems are considered to be architecture of choice for a new generation of personalized and predictive healthcare.

“The idea is that one day, you will be able to walk into your local Walgreens or CVS and purchase these devices inexpensively, or install the application on your smartphone,” he says. “They will help you to become proactive and more engaged and work with your physician to create a personalized medical monitoring and recording program that will help you to assess and improve your health and wellbeing.”


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