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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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UH Engineering Alums Honored During EWeek

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Toby Weber
Mario Duarte
Karen Kabin

National Engineers Week, Feb. 19 to Feb. 25, kicked-off with events and ceremonies being held throughout the country. It is run by the Engineers Week Foundation, a coalition of engineering associations, businesses and government agencies. The week is intended to raise public awareness of engineers’ contributions to society and encourage students to pursue engineering careers.

In conjunction with Engineers Week, several alumni of the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering have been honored for their contributions to the profession, including three young alums in the Houston area.

Mario Duarte, Industrial Engineering

Mario Duarte, a security engineer with the City of Houston airport system was named one of the "New Faces of Engineering" by the Engineers Week Foundation. Duarte earned a B.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Houston in 2003.

Duarte has chosen to focus his career on improving homeland security through industrial engineering. In honoring Duarte, the Engineers Week Foundation singled out his work on a mathematics-based security, threat and vulnerability analysis method for airports, as well as analysis of explosive-detection/baggage-handling systems at Houston's airports.

According to Duarte, the variety of industrial engineering classes at the Cullen College of Engineering has made his work on these projects much more efficient.

“The University of Houston has a very good mix of what comprises industrial engineering,” he said. “I know of industrial engineering degrees at some universities that are very strong in one area but they move away from other areas. I think the combination of subject matters in the industrial engineering department at UH is very good, including ergonomics, manufacturing, statistics, simulation and engineering management.”

Karen Kabin, Chemical Engineering

Kabin Kabin has been honored as the 2006 Young Engineer of the Year by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers South Texas Section.

Kabin currently works as a senior analyst for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners in the Products Pipeline Business Development Group. Although her current position entails a number of responsibilities, her technical focus is the separation of transportation mixture, known as transmix, which is a by-product of refined-products pipeline operations. She is currently focusing on optimizing current transmix separation operations and ensuring that the facilities will have the necessary ability to separate ultra-low sulfur diesel from gasoline products.

Kabin began her engineering studies in earnest when she enrolled in the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at age 15. By 17, she had earned 90 credit hours of college coursework. She then enrolled in UH, where she earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in chemical engineering (in 2000, 2001 and 2005, respectively) and M.B.A.

While her academic achievements could have afforded her entry into any number of graduate schools, she chose to complete her education at UH because the school’s faculty offered a powerful mix of expertise and real-world experience, she said.

“One of the reasons I continued my graduate studies at UH was my advisor, [chemical engineering professor and chair] Mike Harold. Prior to joining the University of Houston, Professor Harold had worked for several years at DuPont and he understood my desire to work and attend graduate school at the same time. There are a lot of professors at UH who understand that desire. They have significant industrial experience, and they know how to prepare you for a job outside of academia.”

Ryan Schmidt, Mechanical Engineering

Ryan Schmidt was named the 2006 Young Engineer of the Year by the South Texas Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Schimidt earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from UH in 2001. An active member of the local engineering community, he currently is treasurer of the ASME’s South Texas Section and previously served as its secretary and programs chair.

For the past four years, Schmidt has worked with The Boeing Co.’s passive thermal control team, where he performs thermal modeling for the International Space Station and provides support for station missions.

Schmidt credits the Cullen College of Engineering with giving him the educational background to excel professionally. “I think our curriculum surpasses a lot of other programs,” he said. “At the workplace I interact with people from universities all over the country and our curriculum stacks up well against any of them. If you understand the theories behind things, you can build on that knowledge.”

A Lifetime Member of the UH Alumni Association, Schmidt also holds season tickets for Cougar football and basketball.

“It’s important to be involved in the Alumni Association. The university has given me a lot in terms of my education and degree. Being a member also makes it easier to keep in contact with the friends I had in school,” said Schmidt.

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