Helping UA Students Engineer Successful Careers

University of Alabama, H.M. Comer Hall, University of Alabama School of Engineering, ACIPCO, ACIPCO Engineering Career Development Center

Deciding on a career is never easy, especially when you are an 18-year-old college freshman. But students at the University of Alabama now have an advantage over others through the ACIPCO Engineering Career Development Center. Although largely focused on engineering, the center does offer other opportunities for students. On average, the center serves between 50 and 150 students every week, and among other things, helps students find co-op opportunities with ACIPCO and other companies.

“One of the first questions college students today need to ask themselves is what can I do to be successful in my career,” said Amy Ratliff, director of the Engineering Career Development Center. “We work to bridge that gap and bring in the resources students need to build those skills. The biggest joy we have is watching a student succeed. It’s very rewarding. Nothing is better than a student coming in and saying thank you for helping me secure the job I wanted.”

Opened in August 2018, the ACIPCO Engineering Career Development Center was made possible through a donation from AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company to the University of Alabama’s College of Engineering. The ACIPCO Engineering Career Development Center as well as the Brasfield and Gorrie Advising Center, the Patterson Welcome Center and a student innovation lab called “The Cube” are all part of a recently completed 17-month renovation at H.M. Comer Hall, which is home to the College of Engineering. More than 6,000 students were enrolled in the college in the fall of 2018.

“Students are amazed, in awe of the new center,” Ratliff said. “It’s a beautiful representation of the university, the caliber of our programs and our commitment to students.”

“Students are amazed, in awe of the new center,” Ratliff said. “It’s a beautiful representation of the university, the caliber of our programs and our commitment to students.”

While you may think the ACIPCO Engineering Career Development Center’s sole focus is helping students find careers, the center is also focused on helping students succeed in all areas of their lives. Classes on etiquette, proper attire for interviews, communication skills and personal appeal – a three-minute elevator pitch – are all keys to a student’s success. “We want students to know that wherever they are, they are always representing themselves,” Ratliff said. “We talk about the way you carry yourself, the importance of smiling at others and opening doors. It all adds up to the best representation of yourself.”

Other services available to students through the ACIPCO Engineering Career Development Center are:

• Developing a career action plan;
• Connecting students with co-op employers;
• Participating in internship recruitment;
• Writing a resume;
• Preparing for interviews; and
• Developing professional skills.

“We have rooms set aside for interviews and a space where they can complete Skype interviews,” Ratliff said. “We also have electronic display boards listing upcoming events and sponsorships.”

The ACIPCO Engineering Career Development Center also brings companies on campus for workshops, classes, presentations and more. “Our goal is to be an information hub for students,” Ratliff said. “We want to complement the academics and the advising, and give them the skills they need to succeed at UA and beyond.”