Transformational Learning Opportunities in the College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Specific information about the types and range of TLOs available for students in different academic departments in the College of Computing, Engineering & Construction can be found below.

Container Project
Construction Management students in Dr. Mag Malek’s Spring 2010 Industrial Construction II TLO class applied their knowledge and skills to the task of refurbishing, modifying, and transforming surplus shipping containers to serve a myriad of purposes such as pavilions, affordable housing, shelters, classrooms and libraries.  This community-based learning project, supported partially with funds from UNF’s Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO) program, afforded students an opportunity to learn from and work with professionals in the industry who have experience with this form of construction. In managing and executing this project, and building a final product that will be used to meet a community need, the students were able to develop and strengthen their community engagement skills.

Dr. Malek and Dr. David Jaffee, UNF Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Studies, worked to bring together community partners that include the University of North Florida, Jaxport, Horizon Lines, and AGC Transport and Services.  As is the case in most maritime port communities, Jacksonville and Jaxport have a surplus of shipping containers. Many of these older surplus containers can no longer be used for the purposes of shipping cargo. They are therefore stacked, stored, and warehoused throughout Jacksonville. This project effectively recycles this resource and converts the containers into a functional and usable form for meeting other community needs. In this way, the project contributes to the sustainability of the port economy.


News4Jax, The Jacksonville Business Journal, and The Florida Times-Union covered the story locally and the story was picked up nationally by CNN. 


Thanks to Mick Barr of Barr Design for the great photos on the Construction Management web gallery and to CCEC Senior Broadcast Technologist, Elaine Poppell for the Container Project video on the Construction Management web page.   CM Students who participated in this project were Henry Alsandor, Jeffrey Brown, Eric Canoura, Aaron Cavinder, Joseph D’Acquisto, Chris Diehl, Andrew Dunmire, Joseph Greene, Jeremy Lord, Paul Ly, Juan Orozco, Jake Seaton, Ryan Sparrell, Ryan Stallings, Broughton Webb, and Matt Young.

Jacksonville National Cemetery

Construction Management students worked with the North Jacksonville Rotary Club during the 2009-2010 academic year on an educational center at the Department of Veterans Affairs-owned Jacksonville National Cemetery.  This community service project served as the CM Capstone project in which students developed their budgeting and scheduling experience while working with industry leaders.  Students have already developed conceptual designs and budgets for the 10,000 square foot building.


Alden Road Exceptional Student Center
During 2008-2009, Construction Management capstone students worked on the design and construction of a gazebo, an airnasium, and upgraded paths and walkways at the Alden Road Exceptional Student Center, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of North Jacksonville.


Philippines Summer Internship
Four University of North Florida Construction Management students traveled to the
Philippines in July, 2009 to work on the second phase of the St. Anthony’s Learning and Development Center construction project, in conjunction with the project’s founder, UNF School of Engineering alumnus Noel San Antonio.  The three-week-long Transformational Learning Opportunity served as a for-credit internship for the four Construction Management students, Johnathan Brown, Ryan Kirk, Hau Nguyen, and Gordon Stasack.

Before their departure for the Philippines, the four engaged in pre-planning which included scheduling, estimating, and procurement of supplies for the addition to the concrete block school in Bulacan.  Once on-site, they directed the work within a 22-day build schedule using hand tools and working in heat, humidity and in between sudden downpours.

Ryan Kirk shared some of his thoughts about the differences in working conditions and construction techniques on the students’ blog:  

       "Construction techniques here in the Philippines are much different than in the U.S.  Labor is chosen over machine in just about every way.  Concrete is mixed by hand using the sand and aggregate that is    unloaded from trucks by hand and then set into place by hand.  The re-bar is cut by hand, bent by hand, and tied together by hand.  Labor is abundant, so it makes it so much cheaper to use rather than equipment which is expensive to buy, rent and run.  We only have basic hand tools on site such as shovels, hammers, pliers, tape measure, and string and we are still able to create a sturdy building."

This project gave the Construction Management interns an opportunity to use the knowledge obtained in the Building Construction Management program while working on a cross-cultural team and making a life transforming impact on the community in Bulacan.  You can read more about this Transformational Learning Opportunity on the students’ blog.  The students took some amazing photographs of the region’s flora and fauna as well as their construction efforts.


National Association of Home Builders
Construction Management students who are members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) student chapter participated in a drywall hanging event at the Youth Crisis Center (YCC) Touchstone Village, 3015 Parental Home Road in Jacksonville, FL on Feb. 13, 2009 in conjunction with the Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA).   NAHB, NEFBA and YCC volunteers hung approximately 850 pieces of drywall in the 30,000 square foot Administration Building.

Sigma Lambda Chi

Fifteen Construction Management students were inducted into Sigma Lambda Chi (SLC), the construction honorary society, in March 2010 for their outstanding academic performance.  The 2010 inductees are:  Derek Hedman, President, Christine Short, Vice President, Kyle Boivin, Treasurer, Kyle Allen, Joseph D'Acquisto, Brandon Facini, Lauren Iglio, Ryan Kirk, Kaitlin Knox, Paul Ly, Jeffrey McFarland, Van Morgan, Brian Mulvaney, Joseph Shepard and Ryan Stallings.  Dr. Mag Malek serves as the SLC faculty advisor.

BCM Study Abroad

Dr. Mag Malek and James Sorce conducted a study abroad to Egypt in December 2009.  Twenty Construction Management students visited the American University in Cairo where they attended construction lectures, visited the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, the Valley of the Kings, Luxor Temple and the Aswan High Dam.  During this visit, the students studied resource allocation, how the Egyptian culture affects negotiations and the construction process, as well as construction methods and problems specific to the construction industry in the Middle East.  Upon their return, students were required to prepare a report using their collected data, photographs, and research on key aspects of the country’s history, culture, bidding and estimating procedures, project delivery methods, project management and other business practices.  You can view more photos of the Egypt trip on the CM Web Gallery.


Dr. Mag Malek and James Sorce led eleven CM students on a study abroad to Montreal and Ottawa, Canada in May 2010.  In addition to visiting historical and cultural sites, they toured several construction sites.  The group visited a several LEED Gold and LEED Platinum construction projects and spoke with architects and project managers on the projects.

CCEC Student Co-Ops & Interns
CCEC encourages students to participate in a co-op or internship as part of their educational experience. Ms. Rebecca Johnson serves as the CCEC Career Services liaison between UNF CCEC students and employers who are looking for interns or employees.   Approximately fifty-five students participated in internships during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Civil Engineering Student Design Competitions

Thirty two students from the Civil Engineering academic program participated in various student competitions at the American Society of Civil Engineering Regional Meeting held at the University of Florida, April 6-8, 2006. The UNF Civil Engineering students placed 5th overall. Specific event awards were: 5th Plan Reading, 4th Environment, 4th Professional Paper, 3rd Concrete Cylinder, 2nd Steel Bridge, 1st Steel Bridge Efficiency, 2nd Steel Bridge Stiffness, 2nd Steel Bridge Construction Speed, 2nd Steel Bridge Aesthetics, 2nd Steel Bridge Construction Economy, 2nd Steel Bridge Lightness


Florida’s First Coast Manufacturing Innovation Partnership

Dr. Daniel Cox, PI, and Dr. Alexandra Schonning, Co-PI, secured National Science Foundation support to found the Florida’s First Coast Manufacturing Innovation Partnership research center. The UNF center provides expertise and research support to manufacturing companies in the First Coast region.   Dr. Cox  works with students in the Florida’s First Coast Manufacturing Innovation Partnership research laboratory.

Computer Programming Competition

The UNF student chapter of the Association of Computing Machines (ACM) participated in the ACM Southeast Programming Contest held on Saturday, October 28 at Georgia Southern University and University of South Alabama. The UNF ACM student chapter fielded two three-person student teams to participate in the ACM Southeast Programming Contest. The student programming competition included 69 teams from 31 universities. Dr. Behrooz Seyed-Abbassi and Dr. Yap Chua serve as Faculty Advisors to the UNF ACM student chapter.


UNF teams placed 26th place (4 problems solved) and 60th place (1 problem solved).

Click here for a complete listing of the results.


UNF – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (BCBS) Partnership
Dr. Ron King is the Principal Investigator for a three-year $240,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. The UNF - BCBS partnership originated in 2001 with the initial three-year agreement funded at $50,000 per year. Students in Computer Information and Sciences (CIS) academic program work on computing applications of interest to BCBS. The manager of the BCBS IT office, Mr. Scott Hartsfield, notes, “. . . this educational collaboration helps develop students by presenting them with real problems."  


Since the inception of the partnership, CIS students have spent over 10,000 hours in research, development and deployment of computer health related applications.  Upon completion of their CIS degree, six CIS students have gone to work for BCBS. Twenty four have used the practical experience they received at BCBS to find IT jobs in the Jacksonville area.


CCEC Advanced Weather Information Systems (AWIS) Research Laboratory

Dr. J. David Lambert, Dr. Pat Welsh, and Dr. Behrooz Seyed-Abbassi are the principal faculty researchers in the AWIS Research Laboratory.  AWIS research is focused on mesoscale weather information networks providing high resolution spatial-time weather measurements for predicting high accuracy weather forecasts. This type information is utilized by Emergency Management in an event situation. Other applications include construction research, environmental management such as a chemical spills, water management and conservation, and agricultural management. UNF has become a leader in high resolution real time weather research.