Faces of Texas Engineering

Cockrell School of Engineering alumna Columbia Mishra has been named the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Foundation’s inaugural Lakshmi Singh Early Career Leadership Award winner. The award, named for a 31-year-old ASME leader who died unexpectedly in 2015, honors a young female engineer who distinguishes herself as a rising volunteer leader within ASME.

Jeannie Leavitt in cockpit of jet

As a young Air Force ROTC cadet at The University of Texas, Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt was fascinated with the idea of flying, and at that point, it was purely an idea. Family travel during her childhood consisted only of cars, trains and busses. She was 18 years old the first time she flew in an airplane, and from there, she progressed to a private pilot's license. "I started slow and worked my way up," Leavitt said.

Cockrell School alumna Melanie Weber (B.S. ASE 2004) was one of four UT Austin alumni selected to receive the 2020 Outstanding Young Texas Exes Award. The prestigious award, first initiated in 1979, recognizes Texas Exes age 39 and younger who have made significant achievements in their careers and service to the university.

Stellar grades. Strong work ethic. Heavy involvement in networking organizations. The ability to land a top summer internship. We have come to identify these as key indicators of success in college and determining factors of post-college achievement. While the importance of academic performance cannot be ignored – especially as a student at the Cockrell School of Engineering – there is another factor perhaps more crucial to success than a flawless report card: community.

When he’s not serving as a technical sales consultant at Halliburton, Omar Gomez (B.S. Petroleum Engineering 2012) is an advocate for STEM education, mentoring younger generations interested in pursuing an engineering career. As an active member of the Cockrell School’s Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program (EOE) during his time as a Texas Engineering student, Gomez shared with us his experiences in EOE and how the program positively impacted his life and set him up for success.

Archie L. Holmes Jr., vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Virginia, will be the next executive vice chancellor of academic affairs at The University of Texas System. The appointment will be a homecoming for Holmes, who grew up in Texas, received his B.S. in electrical engineering in 1991 from UT Austin and was a faculty member in the Cockrell School of Engineering for a decade before joining the University of Virginia.

To be an undergraduate student in the Cockrell School of Engineering means you are opening doors for your future as you pursue a degree that will help you impact society and change the world. It also means that for the length of time it takes to complete said world-changing degree, you are BUSY.

Class of 2020 mechanical engineering graduate Tyson Smiter, who has been heavily involved in student organizations and committed to his academics since he joined the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been named this year’s Outstanding Scholar-Leader. Every year, the Cockrell School selects an Outstanding Scholar-Leader from among the senior class, recognizing a candidate whose hard work and dedication, both in and out of the classroom, exemplify leadership and inspire our community. The student must have completed at least 60 credit hours at UT Austin and maintained at least a 3.8 in-residence GPA.

Since 1985, the Texas Exes has recognized students who have demonstrated remarkable leadership within the Longhorn community with the President’s Leadership Awards. Of the six recipients for 2020, three are Cockrell School of Engineering students: Mamadou Balde, chemical engineering senior, Josefina Salazar Morales, aerospace engineering senior, and Tyson Smiter, mechanical engineering senior.

When Cockrell School alumna Jill Meyers opens her laptop, an image of a Pilatus PC-12 in flight lights up the screen, serving as a daily reminder of the inspiration for her career in aerospace engineering.