Two students at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering have been chosen as Outstanding Senior and Junior for the 2011-2012 academic year. Senior Brian Clark and Junior Preston Broom were selected from a group of top students representing the college’s eight undergraduate programs.
Outstanding Senior: Brian Clark
Brian Clark’s dedication to his academic career won him the nomination for Electrical Engineering Outstanding Senior. He is active in several student organizations, including IEEE, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and the newly-revived Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society, of which he is an officer. Clark organizes and participates in recruitment and retention events to encourage younger students to get interested. “Hopefully once they’re involved they’ll meet older students to help them with their studies,” Clark noted.
“In high school, physics, math and programming were some of my favorite classes, so electrical engineering was a good way to put those interests into practical use,” said Clark, who is from Allen, Texas. Engineering runs in his family. Both of Clark’s parents are UH alums; his father received an electrical engineering degree, and his mother was in chemical engineering. His sister, Rachel Clark, was the Outstanding Senior for chemical engineering in 2010.
Clark’s engineering interest has a musical complement. “I play French horn in the Moores School of Music Symphonic Winds band,” he noted. “I’m one of the few non-music majors, and we had to go through rigorous auditions. It’s something I really enjoy doing. It can be hard to balance with school work, but it’s worth it.”
In addition to balancing course work and extracurricular activities, Clark has built a strong résumé of teaching and research assistantships, and internships. Last summer he interned at Lockheed Martin in upstate New York. “It was great! I got tons of practical experience, both in software and hardware,” Clark said. “I got to meet a lot of people and work on different projects in what I’m interested in – antennas.”
Research is something that Clark enjoys. He recently acquired a research position with Professors Long and Jackson, working on the design of more efficient antennas for satellites. “They call us [research assistants] emugs – electromagnetic undergraduates,” Clark noted with a grin. “Electromagnetics is definitely my favorite subject; I’ve taken four classes and all of the professors in that area are just outstanding.” Clark plans to extend his studies in electrical engineering in graduate school next year.
As a veteran engineering student, Clark’s advice to freshmen for success in the program is simple. “A lot of people say to first find a good study group, but I disagree,” he said. “I think that it’s better to look at the material before you work with other people. I find it good to study on your own first and then get involved in a group; that’s just better for everyone.”
Outstanding Junior - Preston Broom
Cullen College named Preston Broom as the 2011-2012 Outstanding Junior. He is a chemical engineering major, and is involved in the student chapters of American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the American Chemical Society.
For Broom, the choice to study chemical engineering was easy. He always had a strong aptitude for math and science. “In high school I knew I was going to be some kind of engineer, so I took some basic engineering courses,” he said. “It’s something I enjoy doing.” Broom’s grandfather and uncle are both chemical engineers, and his brother also graduated from UH with a civil engineering degree.
This summer, Broom will hold an internship he gained through the Engineering Career Fair. “The Career Center is really helpful,” he said. “I think they do a really good job.” Broom will intern with Valero. “I’ll be at their Houston refinery, working on each and every piece of equipment - the hydrocracker and sulfur plant, catalytic cracker,” he said. “I’ll be working on a rotation basis every two weeks until the summer is over.” Broom, who has previously interned at Cameron in polymers and plastics, feels confident that he will succeed at Valero. “The mentors there are good about teaching you as you go,” he said. “I’ll learn a lot about refining.”
Broom notes that he has gained a solid foundation in engineering concepts through the courses he has taken at Cullen College. “They really cover a broad range,” he said. “Courses are generalized as much as possible, so whatever discipline you go into, you have some sort of background.” Programming is a key skill that Broom feels is essential to know before entering the work force. “You have to build a mathematical background to learn more applied things, to go straight into the workforce,” he said. “So far I feel like you don’t need to derive out all the equations. You have to know how to work on or fix software.”
When Broom isn’t studying, he’s at the Rec Center playing a number of intramural sports. He plans to work after graduation for a while to gain practical experience, and long-term, he would like to pursue advanced studies. “I always had that goal to get a Ph.D.,” he said. His study philosophy may be unorthodox, although it works for him. “I don’t really study a lot. I just don’t forget things,” he quipped. He can attest to Cullen College’s rigorous academic experience. “It’s a great school,” he said. “You just have to push through your first couple of years.”
|Biomedical Engineering||James Romero||Mark Wierzbicki|
|Chemical Engineering||Preston Broom||Leith McLendon|
|Civil Engineering||Leonard “Ramon” Perez||Kim Pham|
|Computer Engineering||Henry Truong||N/A|
|Electrical Engineering||Keith Chambles||Brian Clark|
|Industrial Engineering||Ethan Rieck||Minh-Ngoc Tran|
|Mechanical Engineering||Javier Villarreal||Ethan Pedneau|
|Petroleum Engineering||Mikhail Alekseenko||N/A|