In a record-breaking time of five years, Shigeyuki Ueno earned bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees (’07, BSE, ’09 MSE, ’12, Ph.D.) in engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
Ueno, from Aomori-shi, the capital city of Aomori Prefecture, in the Tōhoku region of Japan became interested in the field of civil engineering near the end of his sophomore year at UAH.
His priorities for selecting UAH included a school with a strong academic curriculum in science and engineering, safety, and reasonable tuition. In addition, the agency supporting Ueno’s study abroad program in the U.S. had a connection with the university.
He learned the basic knowledge of Engineering — especially the general mechanics of materials, fundamental physics, mathematics, and Civil Engineering courses, which are structural, traffic, foundation, and water system. “Engineering explains and designs physical materials and those behaviors with numbers, and it was interesting to learn them,” said Ueno. “My favorite classes, Continuum Mechanics and Elasticity Mechanics, were taught by Dr. Qiuhai “Ken” Zuo, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.”
Before coming to UAH, Zuo spent seven years at Los Alamos National Laboratory working on modeling materials under dynamic conditions including high-velocity impact.
Ueno’s research at UAH involved predicting concrete fractures strengthened with fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) or plastic. FRP composite materials are usually made of glass (fiberglass), carbon or basalt (obsidian).
While earning his graduate degrees, Ueno served as a research assistant on three College of Engineering projects under the guidance of UAH professors Zuo and Dr. Houssam A. Toutanji.
Ueno also served as a UAH teaching assistant for an undergraduate Civil Engineering materials class and laboratory. In addition, he worked during the summer as a laborer for Daisen Construction LTD in Aomori, Japan, on the construction site of the Tohoku (Shinkansen) Bullet Train. The Japanese high-speed rail line is about 420 miles and connects three of Japan’s largest cities, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.
Ueno graduated summa cum laude from the College of Engineering and co-authored the paper “Prediction of the Interfacial Shear Stress of Externally Bonded FRP to Concrete Substrate Using Critical Stress State Criterion,” in Elsevier Science Direct (2013).
Just as he excelled in his Engineering studies, Ueno also committed himself to volunteer at The Japanese Supplementary School (JSS) meeting Saturdays on the UAH campus. This year, JSS is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Ueno has been teaching at the school since 2009.
The purpose of the school is to teach Japanese language and mathematics to children of Japanese employees transferred to North Alabama. JSS provides a curriculum to help children transition back into the Japanese school system when they return to their native country.
“I started teaching mathematics and Japanese at JSS when I was a graduate student at UAH,” said Ueno. “I always find an interest in teaching something based on my knowledge and experience and in seeing kids eager to learn and achieve new things.
“JSS is not mandatory and is mainly for students returning to Japan, and want a smooth transition from school in the U.S. to Japan,” said Ueno. “Students learn subjects similar to ways taught in Japan,” he added.
Employed as a production engineer in Athens, AL, Ueno’s advice to young people considering careers in engineering: “Find the branch of engineering that interests you the most, develop as many employment opportunities as possible and work hard to achieve your dreams.”
(Courtesy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville)