ISIP Hosts Professional Development Series, Helps Students Connect with Industry


Portia-Elaine Gant
UH chemical engineering senior Jack Cook interviews with Kim Katzmarek at KBR during the professional development series hosted by ISIP. Photo by Jeff Shaw.

University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering students were recently given a real world picture of their future in engineering at a professional development series hosted by the college’s Industrial Scholar Interns Program (ISIP). The week-long program offered workshops on a variety of topics including professionalism and ethics in engineering, diversity in women and resume writing.

“It was a whole week of events, and we invited engineers and human resources professionals from industry to speak to students on a range of topics,” said Leslie Coward, ISIP program manager.

ISIP partners Jones and Carter, FMC Technologies, Fluor, Weatherford, and Cobb, Fenley and Associates participated in several of the 15 workshops. Each session included two 15 minute presentations by industry professionals and concluded with a question and answer session.

“We provided speakers with ideas for topics, but ultimately, we allowed them to determine what message they wanted to share with the students. The topics were all important for the students to hear,” Coward said.

Coward, who worked seven years as a human resources professional before joining UH, had previously given these seminars herself to students.

“This time I wanted to give the students something different,” Coward said. “I wanted them to hear these things echoed by HR professionals and engineers that are currently working. They were able to ask questions of professionals who have been in their shoes and feel that none of their questions were unnecessary because they were people who had been where the students are.”

In addition to ISIP’s industry partners, the ZT Group, DuPont, BP, Boeing, NASA and the City of Houston attended the series.

“The students did find it rewarding and very beneficial,” Coward said. “It’s great when industry representatives are able to take time out of their schedules and come speak to the students.”

Coward said that company representatives found the series mutually beneficial and noted that a number of the representatives in attendance were alumni.

“Some of the representatives said they used personal vacation time to come and give back, and now they’ve made a connection with the college,” Coward said. “Some of the department chairs were excited about meeting the alumni and have already taken steps to have them involved in the college on advisory boards, special workshops or other projects that the professors and chairs are working on.”

One alumnus was able to reconnect with UH for the first time since his graduation in 1968, added Coward.

“Because the speakers were UH graduates, the students had even stronger ties to them,” Coward said.

A site visit to KBR, another one of ISIP’s partners, afforded students the opportunity to meet with professionals in the field.

“They had speakers talk to the students about KBR, and everyone from executive vice presidents to engineers talked about their professions,” Coward said. “Students were able to learn more about KBR’s engineering management program. Human resources representatives talked about what students needed to do to be a part of KBR as interns or after graduation.”

Click here for more information on how to get involved with ISIP or how to become a business partner.


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