University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


Speakers Honor Achievements of Alumni, University at Awards Dinner


Erin D. McKenzie
Cullen College alumni Gabe Cuadra, Michael Harold, Duane Germenis and Daniel Wong at the EAA Distinguished Engineering Alumni Banquet June 5. Photo by Thomas Shea.
Cullen College alumni Gabe Cuadra, Michael Harold, Duane Germenis and Daniel Wong at the EAA Distinguished Engineering Alumni Banquet June 5. Photo by Thomas Shea.

They have served University of Houston advisory boards, city council, area youth organizations, even given time to organize college fundraisers.

Alongside this outreach, all have built successful careers on a solid UH education.

Friday, accomplishments by Michael Harold (1985 Ph.D. ChE), Duane Germenis (1983 BSME), Gabe Cuadra (1988 BSChE) and Daniel Wong (1983 BSCE, 1985 MSCE, 1988 Ph.D. CE) were celebrated at the 2009 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards Dinner.

The four drew a crowd of more than 100 people, many of whom were alumni from the Cullen College of Engineering, to the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston. Here, attendees honored the achievements not only of these four individuals and their predecessors, but also the university.

“This is an occasion to look for the best in ourselves by celebrating the best in four very special UH engineering colleagues,” said John H. Lienhard, keynote speaker, emeritus professor of mechanical engineering and history, and voice of the nationally recognized radio program The Engines of Our Ingenuity.

In a speech inspired by one of his books, Lienhard celebrated the journey of engineering achievement—offering a narrative, based partially on his own experiences, depicting how the imaginations and quest to problem solve by young minds helped to fuel some of the remarkable accomplishments of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Others focused squarely on a future journey.

UH President Renu Khator and Cullen College Dean Joseph Tedesco both sounded recent achievements in the university’s push to become a nationally competitive, tier one institution. A goal, which to be attained, will factor in alumni participation.

“When you start a journey, the first step is always the hardest step,” said Khator. “We’ve started this journey.”

Just five days earlier, Khator shared, Texas Legislature had approved two bills permitting emerging research universities to compete and secure funding to make possible the growth of more tier one universities in the state. The constitutional amendment will be put to a statewide vote in November.

Alumni honored Friday—who have shown support for their alma mater by giving back their time, money, expertise and leadership skills—served as examples of just one of the many initiatives that will help UH in their quest to reach tier one.

Harold, now a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, for the last six years led the department as chair. It’s part of what earned him the Abraham E. Dukler Distinguished Engineering Faculty Award, which recognizes significant contributions to society and the college.

Germenis, vice president of sales and marketing for Turner Designs Hydrocarbon Instruments Inc., for the last 18 years has helped organize the UH Engineering Alumni Association’s annual fundraising golf tournament—earning him the Roger Eichhorn Leadership Service Award.

Wong, CEO for Tolunay-Wong Engineers Inc., and Cuadra, manager of compliance, work processes and management systems for BP America’s Texas City Refinery, both earned the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award. The award honored them for, among other things, their years of dedication to UH advisory boards.

“UH gave me a second life, a second chance,” said Wong, a native of China, in his acceptance speech. “It was a great ride. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my UH education.”