Faces of Texas Engineering

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.

Every year, the Alcalde flips the script and gives alumni the chance to give their favorite professors an A+. Through nominations from former students, the Texas Ten honors professors who have made a difference in the lives of Longhorns. From the musician who instills the power of music in young children to the engineer who loves to problem solve and the mathematician who is determined to see his students succeed, there is no doubt the 2020 class of the Texas Ten is one deserving bunch.

view of Clock Knot sculpture on engineering lawn

As Edgar Figueroa sat over lunch in the UT Club, he reflected on what it meant to him to be the first in his family to attend college. “Pushing through the late nights studying or the challenges of being a first-generation college student was a privilege that others in my family never had,” he said. “I wanted to leave a legacy my family would be proud of.”

Chemical engineering assistant professor Adrianne Rosales does office hours a little differently. At the beginning of each semester, she blocks off multiple 15-minute slots in her schedule and encourages each of her students to come by for a chat. It helps her learn the names of the nearly 70 or 80 students in each of her classes, and makes her students feel more comfortable dropping by again once the course gets going. “We have a rapport right away for constant feedback and exchange of ideas,” she says.

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